Mutant Rats and Mine-busting Monkeys - 8 Surprising Facts from the Middle East

Published July 20th, 2017 - 10:57 GMT

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Whether importing sand into the desert, creating a 1,500-meter long sandwich, or deploying snipers in the streets of Tehran to fight a mutant rat, here are eight surprising facts from the Middle East.

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Abundance can be deceiving: did you know Saudi Arabia has to import camels and sand from Australia to satisfy demand? And while the sand is used for construction—Saudi sand is too smooth for construction—most of the camels end up on the dining table.
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Image 1 of 8:  1 / 8Abundance can be deceiving: did you know Saudi Arabia has to import camels and sand from Australia to satisfy demand? And while the sand is used for construction—Saudi sand is too smooth for construction—most of the camels end up on the dining table.

(Source: Shutterstock)

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Coffee has become an indispensable ingredient of our everyday life, acting as both a fuel for social gatherings and and a pick-me-up. But in earlier times, in Turkey, its importance was so severe a woman could divorce her husband if he did not provide her with enough of it.
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Image 2 of 8:  2 / 8Coffee has become an indispensable ingredient of our everyday life, acting as both a fuel for social gatherings and and a pick-me-up. But in earlier times, in Turkey, its importance was so severe a woman could divorce her husband if he did not provide her with enough of it.

(Source: Shutterstock)

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Carpet weavers can be useful in surprising ways. During the hostage crisis in 1979, Iranian guards employed “skilled carpet weavers” to piece back sensitive documents that consular staff had shredded. According to the CIA, however, Iranian guards nevertheless failed to identify those that had managed to escape.
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Image 3 of 8:  3 / 8Carpet weavers can be useful in surprising ways. During the hostage crisis in 1979, Iranian guards employed “skilled carpet weavers” to piece back sensitive documents that consular staff had shredded. According to the CIA, however, Iranian guards nevertheless failed to identify those that had managed to escape.

(Source: Shutterstock)

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A mutant rat infesting Tehran in 2013 led the government to deploy snipers in the streets to fight the (up to) 5 kg heavy monsters. Having grown so fat that cats were afraid of them and developed a resistance to poison, a well-aimed headshot seemed to be the only form of pest control left.
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Image 4 of 8:  4 / 8A mutant rat infesting Tehran in 2013 led the government to deploy snipers in the streets to fight the (up to) 5 kg heavy monsters. Having grown so fat that cats were afraid of them and developed a resistance to poison, a well-aimed headshot seemed to be the only form of pest control left.

(Source: AFP)

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Does Qatar really have that many football fans? In order to create the impression of a full stadium, Qatar bought “fans” with money in 2015, when migrant workers from Asia and India were first trained in chanting songs they did not understand and paid up to 30 riyals (£5) for attending the matches.
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Image 5 of 8:  5 / 8Does Qatar really have that many football fans? In order to create the impression of a full stadium, Qatar bought “fans” with money in 2015, when migrant workers from Asia and India were first trained in chanting songs they did not understand and paid up to 30 riyals (£5) for attending the matches.

(Source: File photo)

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In order to win the Guinness World Record in 2008, Iranians prepared a 1,500-meter long sandwich in Tehran's Mellat park. Unfortunately, the sandwich looked amazing...and people got hungry. Spectators tucked in before the length of the sandwich could be measured, and it never made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
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Image 6 of 8:  6 / 8In order to win the Guinness World Record in 2008, Iranians prepared a 1,500-meter long sandwich in Tehran's Mellat park. Unfortunately, the sandwich looked amazing...and people got hungry. Spectators tucked in before the length of the sandwich could be measured, and it never made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

(Source: AFP)

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In Iran, 14 “suspicious” squirrels were caught by Iranian authorities in 2007 before they were “able to take action.” The incident occurred near a nuclear enrichment plant, but IRNA said the squirrels “were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies.”
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Image 7 of 8:  7 / 8In Iran, 14 “suspicious” squirrels were caught by Iranian authorities in 2007 before they were “able to take action.” The incident occurred near a nuclear enrichment plant, but IRNA said the squirrels “were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies.”

(Source: Shutterstock)

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At first sight, a monkey from the Moroccan mountains does not seem to have much to do with the US invasion of Iraq. Yet, to prevent casualties of US combatants, the Moroccan government offered to send 2,000 monkeys, trained in detonating landmines, to Iraq.
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Image 8 of 8:  8 / 8At first sight, a monkey from the Moroccan mountains does not seem to have much to do with the US invasion of Iraq. Yet, to prevent casualties of US combatants, the Moroccan government offered to send 2,000 monkeys, trained in detonating landmines, to Iraq.

(Source: Shutterstock)

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1

Abundance can be deceiving: did you know Saudi Arabia has to import camels and sand from Australia to satisfy demand? And while the sand is used for construction—Saudi sand is too smooth for construction—most of the camels end up on the dining table.

Image 1 of 8Abundance can be deceiving: did you know Saudi Arabia has to import camels and sand from Australia to satisfy demand? And while the sand is used for construction—Saudi sand is too smooth for construction—most of the camels end up on the dining table.

(Source: Shutterstock)

2

Coffee has become an indispensable ingredient of our everyday life, acting as both a fuel for social gatherings and and a pick-me-up. But in earlier times, in Turkey, its importance was so severe a woman could divorce her husband if he did not provide her with enough of it.

Image 2 of 8Coffee has become an indispensable ingredient of our everyday life, acting as both a fuel for social gatherings and and a pick-me-up. But in earlier times, in Turkey, its importance was so severe a woman could divorce her husband if he did not provide her with enough of it.

(Source: Shutterstock)

3

Carpet weavers can be useful in surprising ways. During the hostage crisis in 1979, Iranian guards employed “skilled carpet weavers” to piece back sensitive documents that consular staff had shredded. According to the CIA, however, Iranian guards nevertheless failed to identify those that had managed to escape.

Image 3 of 8Carpet weavers can be useful in surprising ways. During the hostage crisis in 1979, Iranian guards employed “skilled carpet weavers” to piece back sensitive documents that consular staff had shredded. According to the CIA, however, Iranian guards nevertheless failed to identify those that had managed to escape.

(Source: Shutterstock)

4

A mutant rat infesting Tehran in 2013 led the government to deploy snipers in the streets to fight the (up to) 5 kg heavy monsters. Having grown so fat that cats were afraid of them and developed a resistance to poison, a well-aimed headshot seemed to be the only form of pest control left.

Image 4 of 8A mutant rat infesting Tehran in 2013 led the government to deploy snipers in the streets to fight the (up to) 5 kg heavy monsters. Having grown so fat that cats were afraid of them and developed a resistance to poison, a well-aimed headshot seemed to be the only form of pest control left.

(Source: AFP)

5

Does Qatar really have that many football fans? In order to create the impression of a full stadium, Qatar bought “fans” with money in 2015, when migrant workers from Asia and India were first trained in chanting songs they did not understand and paid up to 30 riyals (£5) for attending the matches.

Image 5 of 8Does Qatar really have that many football fans? In order to create the impression of a full stadium, Qatar bought “fans” with money in 2015, when migrant workers from Asia and India were first trained in chanting songs they did not understand and paid up to 30 riyals (£5) for attending the matches.

(Source: File photo)

6

In order to win the Guinness World Record in 2008, Iranians prepared a 1,500-meter long sandwich in Tehran's Mellat park. Unfortunately, the sandwich looked amazing...and people got hungry. Spectators tucked in before the length of the sandwich could be measured, and it never made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Image 6 of 8In order to win the Guinness World Record in 2008, Iranians prepared a 1,500-meter long sandwich in Tehran's Mellat park. Unfortunately, the sandwich looked amazing...and people got hungry. Spectators tucked in before the length of the sandwich could be measured, and it never made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

(Source: AFP)

7

In Iran, 14 “suspicious” squirrels were caught by Iranian authorities in 2007 before they were “able to take action.” The incident occurred near a nuclear enrichment plant, but IRNA said the squirrels “were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies.”

Image 7 of 8In Iran, 14 “suspicious” squirrels were caught by Iranian authorities in 2007 before they were “able to take action.” The incident occurred near a nuclear enrichment plant, but IRNA said the squirrels “were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies.”

(Source: Shutterstock)

8

At first sight, a monkey from the Moroccan mountains does not seem to have much to do with the US invasion of Iraq. Yet, to prevent casualties of US combatants, the Moroccan government offered to send 2,000 monkeys, trained in detonating landmines, to Iraq.

Image 8 of 8At first sight, a monkey from the Moroccan mountains does not seem to have much to do with the US invasion of Iraq. Yet, to prevent casualties of US combatants, the Moroccan government offered to send 2,000 monkeys, trained in detonating landmines, to Iraq.

(Source: Shutterstock)

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