x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Convention spoils plate record bid

A bid to trumpet the UAE's date growing industry with a record-breaking plate of dates may be in tatters.

The Liwa Date Festival, a 17-day extravaganza in Abu Dhabi's western region that began on Thursday, celebrates one of the biggest industries in the area.
The Liwa Date Festival, a 17-day extravaganza in Abu Dhabi's western region that began on Thursday, celebrates one of the biggest industries in the area.

A bid to trumpet the UAE's date growing industry around the world with a record-breaking plate of dates may be in tatters after world-record judges disqualified the entry. The organisers of the Liwa Date Festival sought to put the pride of the show and the region on the global map with an enormous platter filled with dates. Judges from Guinness World Records, however, found a hitch: the 12- by two-metre dish was not made from porcelain, crystal or clay, but stainless steel.

The record-breaking bid was meant as the culmination of 17 days of festivities, including numerous auctions of dates, poetry evenings, a group wedding, the Mazayin al Ratb competition to find the best dates and lectures on date palm cultivation. Yet there is, in fact, no official record for the biggest plate of dates; Liwa would have competed in the largest plate category, a record clinched in August 1996 in Gifu, Japan, where the Inatsu town planning association created a ceramic plate that measured 2.8 metres in diameter.

"We are very disappointed," said Mohammed al Qubaisi, one of the festival organisers, as his team tried a final push to persuade the judges to waive the criteria yesterday. "We had the stainless steel plate made about a month ago but were only told two weeks ago that the dish had to be porcelain, crystal or clay. We tried to explain that it is traditional for dates to be displayed in steel plates or wicker baskets, but they would not listen.

"With only two weeks' notice before the festival started, there was not enough time to make a regulation plate. We do not have an oven big enough to create a clay plate and the crystal or china plates would be even harder for us to get hold of." Mr Qubaisi said festival officials, who first put in their record-breaking bid at the beginning of June, still planned to display the huge platter of dates on Aug 1, but would have to be satisfied with not making the record books.

"It is not the fault of Guinness, but their agents who did not tell us the right information," he said. Farah al Masri, the Dubai-based agent for Guinness World Records, denied the festival organisers had been told of the criteria too late, saying: "We are obliged to follow the rules and have no other choice. Steel is simply not acceptable as plates are not usually made of it. They should be made from porcelain, clay or glass.

"We gave them the options at the beginning of this month." She said Liwa officials had initially wanted to set a record for the largest bowl of dates but, as the category does not exist, they were advised to go for the biggest plate. Liwa's bid may also have fallen foul in other ways as the dish is rectangular rather than round. "It sounds like something has been lost in translation," a spokesman for Guinness World Records said. "Any [record-breaking] item must be made from exactly the same material as the original."

Guinness World Records was last night reconsidering whether the attempt could be allowed or a new category added to accommodate the entry. "There seems to have been a misunderstanding," said the spokesman. "The claimants need to contact us directly so we can assess the situation." @Email:tyaqoob@thenational.ae