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Saudi Arabia pays Guinness World Records in ‘new whitewashing’ ruse – and is awarded records for stunningly boring achievements including ‘largest multi-effect distillation desalination unit’ and ‘largest dental hospital’


Saudi Arabia has won Guinness World Records for boring achievements, such as having the ‘largest dental hospital’ after paying the firm in a new alleged ‘whitewashing’ ruse.

This week, GWR announced ten new awards for the country,  a decision which has come under fire by human rights groups.

While records are usually interesting and unique, such as the longest beard on a living female and most consecutive visits to Disneyland, Saudi Arabia’s achievement are dull in comparison. 

Their wins included ‘largest covered water reservoir for storing drinking water’, ‘largest multi-effect distillation desalination unit’ and ‘largest dental hospital’. 

Saudi Arabia is seen as a ‘repressive’ state by human rights movements and the UN has recently expressed concern at the imminent execution of Abdullah Al-Derazi, who was a child at the time of his alleged offences. 

This week, GWR announced ten new awards for the country, a decision which has come under fire by human rights groups

This week, GWR announced ten new awards for the country, a decision which has come under fire by human rights groups

Their wins included 'largest covered water reservoir for storing drinking water', 'largest multi-effect distillation desalination unit' and 'largest dental hospital'

Their wins included ‘largest covered water reservoir for storing drinking water’, ‘largest multi-effect distillation desalination unit’ and ‘largest dental hospital’

Analysis by the Times found that the Middle Eastern country had quickly upped its amount of records in comparison to five years ago.

Before 2019, it was given 54 awards, but this number flew to 160 after this period. Last year alone, it managed it set 56 niche records, such as ‘Largest intellectual property lesson’. 

GWR said that of the 223 awards which list Saudi Arabia as the location of the attempt, 88 are standard applications or researched and 135 were as a result of paid consultations.

Human rights organisations claimed GWR was helping the country conceal its reputation. 

Zaki Sarraf is a death penalty investigator for Reprieve, a nonprofit organisation that ‘fights for victims of extreme human rights abuses’. 

He called the country a ‘deeply repressive state’ and told the outlet: ‘The Guinness World Records should not be helping launder Saudi Arabia’s reputation and whitewash what is happening in the kingdom.’

Mr Sarraf added Saudi Arabia has attempted to try and come across in a better light by a string of PR exercises, such as the purchase of Newcastle United in 2021. 

A £305million deal was struck with Mike Ashley and signed off by the Premier League three years ago.

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – the owners of Newcastle United – are reportedly set to make an offer on AS Roma for £768million. 

James Lynch, a co-director of the human rights group FairSquare and a former British diplomat based in Qatar, said that GWR should announce which of its records were linked to payments.

He also told the newspaper: ‘Guinness is very much supporting Mohammed bin Salman’s economic and investment drive and when you’re supporting that, you’re also supporting his wider programme of repression.’

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia

GWR said that of the 223 awards which list Saudi Arabia as the location of the attempt, 88 are standard applications or researched and 135 were as a result of paid consultations

GWR said that of the 223 awards which list Saudi Arabia as the location of the attempt, 88 are standard applications or researched and 135 were as a result of paid consultations

Guinness World Records told MailOnline: ‘We genuinely believe that record-breaking should be for everyone; whoever you are, whatever your background, wherever you’re from in the world and we will always embrace the chance to introduce GWR to new audiences everywhere. 

‘This inclusive approach comes with risks, so we take our lead from the UK and US governments on where we are able to do business. 

‘If there are sanctions in place, we of course would stop operating within a country, as we did with Russia in February 2022. 

‘We would also decline to license our brand if we felt record-breaking was being used in a polarising or negative way at all, and this is something we look out for in all applications. 

‘GWR is a business, and like so many western businesses, brands, sports events and so on, as Saudi society has begun to open up, we have seen interest in what we do rise sharply. 

‘Fans on our social media channels have increased in their thousands and we’re beginning to see an increase in applications from the general public, which we service for free, likely driven by many of the records broken by private and public sector companies. 

‘At events like the Saudi Games, ordinary citizens of Saudi Arabia had the chance to experience record-breaking first-hand, for the very first time.’

Guinness World Records wins for Riyadh  

  • Largest house cleaning lesson: 2,030
  • Largest gathering of people with type 1 diabetes: 752
  • Largest reverse osmosis water desalination plant: 600,000 cubic metres
  • Largest paint store: 1,682 sq metres
  • Lowest twinning rate: 4.9 twins per 1,000 deliveries
  • Most text messages received in one hour: 19,469
  • Most supplements inserted into broadsheet newspapers in one minute: Ten
  • Largest intellectual property lesson: 758
  • Largest multi-effect distillation water desalination plant: 3 million cubic metres
  • Smallest floating golf green: 1 sq metre



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