Record breakers are rising in the Middle East and North Africa

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The Guinness World Records is a benchmarking institution best-known for having authenticated and catalogued feats of human endeavour since 1955.

In recent years, increasing numbers of contenders from the Middle East and North Africa have been adding their names to the long list of international title holders.


In 2017, Emirati strongman Mahmood Shamshun-Al Arab broke the world record for the heaviest vehicle pulled by human hair.

He dragged an industrial truck, weighing more than 10,000 kilograms, with his knotted ponytail and since then has towed even heavier vehicles from mobile hospitals to planes.

Another regional achievement came from Tunisia, where Fahmi Kalboussi completed 32 no handed kip-ups in one minute, involving him jumping to his feet from lying on his back.

In Gaza, thirteen-year-old Mohammed Al Sheikh is nicknamed ‘spider boy’ due to his extremely flexible spine. And whilst maintaining a headstand, the teenager broke the world record for the most full body revolutions – 38 in total – during the course of a minute.

Al Sheikh managed to defeat the record of a UK contortionist, and 2014 champion, Leilani Franco, who completed 29 turns.

“I’m very happy that I took the Guinness prize,” he said. “And I broke the record of a woman older than me, by a lot.”

Yet, proving that world record holders can’t afford to rest on their laurels, last year Al Sheikh’s achievement was smashed by a nine-year-old girl in India who pivoted 42 times in 60 seconds.

READ MORE: Record breaking Egyptian mountaineer Omar Samra talks triumphs and tragedy


The MENA region is well-known for its generous meal portions, and most recently, its appetite for breaking food records has come to the fore.

Examples include the world’s largest bowl of couscous in Algeria, weighing six tonnes, the longest sandwich from Lebanon, which measured 735 metres and the world’s largest cream-filled biscuit from Bahrain, with 73.4 kilograms.


As of June 2019, the Middle East and North Africa had broken 848 world records compared to 54,000 globally.

Regionally, the UAE tops the league table with more than 350 records, or 60 percent of overall titles, followed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The number of achievements coming from the Arab world in recent times has been steadily on the rise, according to adjudicators.

“Five years ago, we used to receive two submissions from individuals a year. Now, we’re receiving about one every week.” says Samer Khallouf, GWR’s head of records for the Middle East and North Africa.

Guinness World Records states that whilst 85 percent of applications are submitted by individuals, around 75 percent of records have been broken by commercial and governmental entities.

Many of the most successful records relate to large regional structures, including Egypt’s Rod El Farag bridge which measures 67.3 meters in breadth and became the widest cable-stayed bridge this year.

Meanwhile in the UAE, the Burj Khalifa proudly holds nine records, including the tallest building at 828 meters and the most floors at 163.


French-lebanese contortionist Farah, who started training only 3 years ago, shows her flexibility skills on Instagram.

Egyptian actor Ramez Amir proudly took part in social media’s latest trend, the Bottle Cap Challenge.

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