Walking Tall ... and Making Heads Turn

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Javid Hassan, Arab News Staff

Published — Saturday 20 December 2003

Last Update 20 December 2003 3:00 am

RIYADH, 20 December 2003 — Two of the world’s tallest men, both from Pakistan, are on a visit to the Kingdom. Ajaz Ahmed, at 2.50 m (8 ft 2 in) and weighing 100 kg, is visiting the capital en route to London to stake his claim in the Guinness Book of World Records. Shabbir Ali, at 2.55 m (8 ft 4 in), came for a check-up at a polyclinic.

Though Shabbir beats his compatriot by 5 cm, his height has already hit its ceiling. Ajaz, at 23, continues to grow.

Arab News also caught up with a man who claims to be the world’s shortest — Qamar Ali Channa, who at 22 stands just 77 cm (2 ft 6 in) tall.

Ajaz Ahmed and Qamar Ali Channa were mobbed and cheered when they visited the Euromarche hypermarket during a promotional tour that will also take them to other Middle Eastern countries.

The two posed for pictures with customers for SR20 a shot, collecting SR1,700 on the first day and SR1,500 on the second. Both Ajaz and Qamar hail from Pakistan — Ajaz from Punjab and Qamar from Karachi. Accompanying them is their manager Talat Mehmood, who works for an advertising agency.

Ajaz, who has six brothers and six sisters, said all his other siblings are of normal height. “I started gaining height at the rate of half an inch a year when I was 10 years old and six feet tall. My appetite was also growing. I would eat two or three large chappatis (unleavened bread) with minced meat or mutton, my favorite dishes. I went to King Abdul Aziz Hospital in Jeddah and they told me that my growth hormones are still active, so I would continue to grow,” he told Arab News.

His growing height is not the problem, though. His main concern is to get a bone transplant to correct a limp caused by a motor accident in Dubai. The purpose of the fund-raising campaign is to meet the cost of the operation.

Qamar’s four sisters and two of his brothers are also of normal stature. However, his younger brother’s growth is also restricted.

Talat said the Ministry of Information in Pakistan could have used them as part of a promotional campaign in sports, culture or tourism. But the ministry refused saying it got its fingers burned when it sponsored the late Alam Channa — previously thought to be the world’s tallest man — and found he never did anything for Pakistan but only promoted his own stature.

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