Middle East

A particular Palestinian 'obsession'

Over the years the Guinness Book of Records has provided thousands of people across the world with the chance to indulge in obsessive bizarre record-breaking attempts.

Image caption Every few weeks there is another attempt to break a record

From the person wearing the most pairs of underpants at any one time - 200 pairs - to the person able to balance the most spoons on their face - 16 spoons.

But since I took up my position here in the West Bank and Gaza, I have noticed the Palestinians' particular fascination with getting into the book.

It seems that every few weeks there is another attempt.

Next month the beaches of Gaza will be full of thousands of children attempting to break the record for the number of kites flown at one time.

Later in the summer, up to 10,000 people will line up in a dabka dancing extravaganza.

Dabka is a Palestinian traditional dance, a little like line-dancing.

Ten thousand people would be a new world record.


One man in Ramallah is especially obsessed with "The Guinness".

Nasser Abdulhadi has made no fewer than five attempts to get his name in the record book.

Ever since watching the British children's TV series Record Breakers, Mr Abdulhadi has dedicated much of his time to the obsession.

And sometimes he has been successful.

In his restaurant in central Ramallah, a certificate sits proudly on the wall.

"Guinness Book of World Records: world's largest salad," it declares.

The item in question, a tabouleh salad, was more than a mouthful.

It was 1,081 kilos of chopped up parsley, onion, tomato, bulgur wheat, and mint.

"The dish to hold it had to be four-and-a-half metres across," laughs Mr Abdulhadi.

He has also broken the record for the world's largest mosakken, a Palestinian dish made of bread, chicken and onions.

But are these classes of world records perhaps not a little "niche"?

There are not too many other people battling it out around the world in the mosakhen category.

Courting controversy

"It's not about being niche," says Abdulhadi, "it's about celebrating our Palestinian culture and identity on an international stage."

"It's about showing the world that Palestinians are more than what you see in the news.

"We are chefs, dancers, carpenters, normal human beings," he adds.

But some of Mr Abdulhadi's attempts have been more controversial.

He once approached the Guinness Book of Records trying to enter Palestine in the category of "territory enduring the world's longest occupation".

"They wrote back to me and told me I was being provocative," says Abdulhadi.

"So now I have entered again in the category of 'most wonderful occupation'".

The wry smile on his face though suggests he is not too confident he will succeed.

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