Iraq’s Tallest Man Is Only Missing One Thing In His Life
Being the country’s tallest man, and one of the tallest in the world, can be both a burden and a joy. It’s easy to get people to make clothes to measure but it’s far harder finding true love, Iraq’s own giant says.
At one stage, another Iraqi man, Faid al-Issawi, was registered as the world’s second tallest, living man. But, as al-Jibouri says, al-Issawi is only 2.37 meters tall.
Will they be able to find a big enough coffin for me? I decided already that I would prepare my own coffin so that my family would not be embarrassed.
“When I heard the news I was very upset,” al-Jibouri told NIQASH. “Because the information was wrong and I thought it was an injustice.”
Al-Jibouri then had a surprise visit from the competition. “He came to my house and he was very surprised because I was taller than him,” al-Jibouri recounts. “We walked together and somebody asked me if he was my son,” al-Jibouri laughs.
Al-Jibouri was born to a normal sized mother and father and all of his six male siblings are also of an average height. When he reached 13 his limbs began to grow quickly, despite doctors’ efforts to slow his growth down.
And al-Jibouri doesn’t mind being the giant on the block. It makes him feel distinguished, he says. “If I was not this tall, I’d just be a normal person. Then you wouldn’t have come to visit me either,” he told NIQASH’s reporter.
Everybody knows al-Jibouri around here. Children playing on the street called him “tall Sabah” and knew where his house in Al Sadeer was immediately.
“I am happy to be loved by people, and especially by children,” al-Jibouri said. “Everywhere I go, people always want to take pictures with me. If I could sell the pictures that people always want, I’d be rich!”
And being this tall doesn’t stop him for doing his favourite things. He loves watching football games on TV but prefers not to watch news broadcasts because he finds the political situation in Iraq so depressing. “I follow up on Facebook,” he notes. He also likes to spend time with friends at their homes and going hunting in the weekends.
Of course, being this tall can be a problem too. There are no clothes or footwear at the local shops that fit. All of his things are custom made by local tailors and shoemakers. Today al-Jibouri is wearing a traditional long shirt, called the dishdashi. It was made specially for him out of five meters of cloth and cost US$95. His shoes were also made for him and they cost US$45.
He sleeps on a long, wool carpet that was also made for him and he thinks this is perfectly acceptable, as it is a traditional sleeping matt in rural areas and it is also healthy, he says.
Cars are also tricky – he cannot fit in one to drive so must spend a lot of time walking. And he does worry what his family will do when he dies. “Will they be able to find a big enough coffin for me?” he asks, sombre now. “I decided already that I would prepare my own coffin so that my family would not be embarrassed.”
Occasionally he is also harassed or teased for being this size. But he just ignores those people and considers them ignorant, he tells NIQASH.
There is only one source of real sadness in his life. Al-Jibouri would like to be able to marry and raise a small family.
He himself has tried to find a woman who is tall enough for him and his parents have also been trying to find a prospective partner. Their only option now is to search in European countries “where beautiful, tall women live,” al-Jibouri adds. “I don’t mind waiting,” he says, “the woman of my dreams could be German or Russian. And I know that the wife I am dreaming of will not be in Iraq. She will be a foreigner.”