UAE: Bloodied hands, hours of labour; how teen with 5% eyesight pulled off Guinness World Record

Egyptian expat suffers from Leber congenital amaurosis, an eye disorder that primarily affects the retina



Zeyad Ibrahim (C) and his sister Selma (L) receiving their certificate.
Zeyad Ibrahim (C) and his sister Selma (L) receiving their certificate.
by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sun 11 Sep 2022, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Sun 11 Sep 2022, 9:25 PM

Despite Lego bricks leaving behind scars on his hands, Zeyad Ibrahim couldn’t be happier.

“It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was completely worth it,” said the 19-year-old, referring to the world’s largest Lego brick eyeglasses that he and his 17-year-old sister Selma built last week in Abu Dhabi.

“One challenge I did not anticipate was how sharp the bricks would be. Every day, I would have cuts on my hands and bleed. And sometimes, the blocks just wouldn’t stick together. However, none of that stopped me from powering on.”

Helping him in this feat was his younger sister Selma, who has been his playmate since they were young kids. “Since he got his first Lego set at 9, he has been smitten by it,” she said. “Even as a kid, I used to build all the sets with him.”

Suffering from Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), an eye disorder that primarily affects the retina, Zeyad only has 5% of his eyesight. It was a symbolic gesture for him to make the eyeglasses.

World’s largest LEGO brick eyeglasses.
World’s largest LEGO brick eyeglasses.

“We wanted to make something that put a spotlight on his condition,” said Salma. “He has had this since he was a child. I live with him and know how difficult it is for him to go about his daily life. So, I really wanted to help him highlight it.”

The Egyptian siblings put together the Lego shaped eyeglasses with dimensions of 6.2m x 2.52m x 0.952m over a span of 17 days. It took the siblings a total of 56 hours and 35minutes to assemble the eyeglasses.

Zeyad's other creation
Zeyad's other creation

“We would combine some pieces into blocks at home and then transport them to the mall,” said Zeyad. “We would then go to the mall and combine the blocks together, until it closes at 10pm. The whole process was very tiring to be honest.” The brother-sister duo used 65,108 Lego bricks that weigh 147+ kg, about as heavy as a Panda Bear.

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In January 2020, Zeyad took part in the world's Longest handshake relay during an event held in Abu Dhabi. This inspired him to attempt to break a Guinness World Records (GWR) title in his own way. “I emailed the team of GWR last year, but I didn’t tell my family anything,” he said. “When I got the official confirmation, I shared it with my family. My sister jumped to help me out.”

After he got his first Lego box at 9, Zeyad would spend hours listening to YouTube videos to learn how to create new shapes. Since then, he has built over 700 sets, often giving his own twist to the models. Currently studying Chemical Engineering at the University College Dublin, Ireland, Zeyad is in the top 2% of his class. He dreams of being able to work with Lego. “I have heard that the company has plans to set up a factory in the UAE,” he said. “My dream is to work at that factory as one of their staff members.”


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