JEDDAH: AFIFA JABEEN QURAISHI
Eating 22 live scorpions or making the largest Kabsah dish may seem frivolous tasks but such are the unique feats that an increasing number of Saudis are embarking on to establish themselves for posterity in the pages of the Guinness World Records.
The number of Saudis registered in the Guinness World Records had gone up to 40, after 10 Saudis broke new world records last year.
This month 28 records were broken at road shows held across the Kingdom, which concluded at the weekend.
The event, Guinness World Records Challenge Fair, organized by Arabian Centers, gave locals a chance to attempt world records in front of an official Guinness World Records adjudicator.
“The level of interest in the Guinness World Records challenge fair has been fantastic. At each city we’ve visited there has been great excitement among people ready to try their hands at record-breaking and unlock their skills. As the organizers, we were amazed by the passion, commitment and determination that people show in order to break a Guinness World Records title. We have seen those same qualities shown by record challengers throughout my time in Saudi Arabia. It has been fantastic to see so many records broken,” said Tom Ibison, Guinness World Records official adjudicator, who was present at the records fair.
Of the 28, 10 records were broken in the Mall of Arabia in Jeddah, 11 records were achieved at the Mall of Dhahran in Dhahran and a further seven were crowned record-holders in Jeddah’s Al-Salaam Mall.
“In the past five years we’ve seen an increase in record applications by 400 percent from across the Middle East. In response, Guinness World Records opened its Middle East office in Dubai earlier this year with the aim of making it easier for businesses and people to access and achieve world records. For me, it would be a pleasure to return to Saudi Arabia in the future to adjudicate another record attempt and witness the talent of the people,” said Ibison.
Talal Omar, who heads the Guinness World Records Middle East office in Dubai, believes it is a desire to be recognized as the world’s best and to measure themselves against the achievements of people from around the world that has led to more Saudi interest in making and breaking records.
“It is the same ambition that inspires Saudis that fuels all our record-breakers,” he said. Of the total records that were achieved at the Arabian Centers event, 13 are current world records; as some record titles were achieved multiple times. For instance, the record fastest time to identify five fragrances while blindfolded was broken three times during the fair.
Omar said record-breaking is all about finding something that an individual is good at. “We encourage people to explore the records that Guinness World Records already holds and then let their imagination run wild. We always want to hear about new record ideas,” he said.
He encouraged Saudi organizations or people interested in record-breaking to explore their websitewww.guinnessworldrecords.com  and to get in touch with their record ideas.
Last year, Alistair Richards, president of Guinness World Records, revealed that 30 to 40 record applications are received every month from Saudi Arabia to be reviewed by the record expert team.
For anyone who wishes to attempt a record or make a record suggestion, an application must be made at the website, which if accepted, the applicant will be sent the record guidelines.
“Then it’s down to them to get record-breaking! All record applications are assessed, and successful records awarded without charge,” said Omar.
Guinness also provides paid-for services for businesses or organizations that require expert guidance in selecting a record to attempt or wishes to invite a Guinness World Records adjudicator.
Guinness World Records recently established an office in Dubai. Can we see one soon in Saudi Arabia?
“The Dubai office aims to cater to the needs of record-breakers and record fans across the Middle East. Just as our New York office meets the needs of record-breakers across North America, South America and Canada. We do not have any current plans to open an office in Saudi Arabia,” said Omar.