Dubai Disabled Club is teaming up with fashion designer Reem Al Marzouqi to create the world’s longest wedding dress train. Benita Adesuyan talks to its CEO and finds out how a gown can help to break records and stereotypes.
Dubai loves a world record. So much so that the Guinness Book of World Records has its own Dubai office, and very soon it may have to open another file as the Dubai Disabled Club and designer Reem Al Marzouqi present what they hope will be the world’s longest wedding dress train.
The current record holder for the world’s longest bridal train is Lichel van den Ende from The Netherlands, who created a gown measuring 2.4km, winning the accolade on December 22 2009. In a bid to smash that record, Al Marzouqi is aiming to create a dress measuring more than 5km in length. While that might be a lot of fabric and even more work, the designer isn’t attempting this feat alone. If the bid is successful, the glory will be shared with the women at the Dubai Disabled Club who have helped make this possible.
The club helps more than 500 people with special needs every day by providing sports, health and educational programmes at its centre in Al Qusais. CEO of the Dubai Disabled Club Majid Abdullah Al Usaimi hopes this record will not be just another Dubai statistic. ‘We like to break records. In the field of sports we have broken records in the Paralympics, as well as sports world championships. We want to be number one and show people that it’s not difficult to achieve. We can reach our dreams, disability will not stop us. We can do it.’
Al Usaimi is passionate that disabled people should be integrated in mainstream society and be respected for their talents in the same way as everyone else and he explains that’s why he was keen for the Dubai Disabled Club to get involved with the designer’s challenge. ‘It was Reem who started the project to break the world record and she had come to the club before. She said, “I want to bring my project to you so that your girls can join me in creating this dress.” She wanted to integrate disabled people into society. We have done these kinds of collaborations before – it’s part of our strategy and programme – so it’s not the first and it won’t be the last.’
According to Al Usaimi, the dress is almost finished, although he jokes, he doesn’t know a great deal about ladies’ clothes. The women and girls working on the gown have a variety of physical and mental disabilities, but the number of girls getting involved with the project has only increased. ‘They started with ten girls, but more took an interest as they came to the club. Some of the girls participated for a few hours, some have intellectual disabilities but they can’t concentrate for long but they wanted to share and get involved.’
The efforts of Al Marzouqi and the women of the Dubai Disabled Club will be celebrated at a launch event on Thursday March 20 at Zabeel Park. The judges from the Guinness Book of Records will be present to measure the dress and confirm if it’s a record-breaker. The club will also be hosting a day of entertainment in the park that is open to everyone to attend.
The club offers programmes of activities to disabled people, where they can come to the centre and have the opportunity to learn sports, arts and crafts, language courses and the chance to work on a record-breaking project, too.
Where the wider subject of issues surrounding the disabled in the emirate is concerned, Al Usaimi feels that resources and support could be better, but is certainly improving. ‘His Highness Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, has announced the 2021 long-term plan for disabled people in Dubai – it is a place for everybody. Whether you are able or disabled you should be able to go where you want without any problems or issues. The plan will also include health programmes, education and accessibility – things which gives a disabled person an equal life in society.’
The club is always looking for volunteers to help with its day-to-day activities and events and is happy to receive applications from caring and enthusiastic people with time to spare.
The Dubai Disabled Club and Al Usaimi are bidding for the dress to not only be a record-breaker, but to give all disabled people the recognition they deserve. ‘We want to break the record and show the world we can succeed in more fields than sports.’
Dhs5 entry fee. The world record dress launch takes place on Thursday March 20, Zabeel Park, Karama. Dubai Disabled Club, Al Qusais 1 (04 298 8205). Call the club for volunteer opportunities.