Look: People of determination get a moment of FAME in Dubai

Over 40 youths participate in an annual talent show started by the mother of a girl with Down Syndrome



F.A.M.E. had a mix of entertainment programmes presented by youths of determination.
F.A.M.E. had a mix of entertainment programmes presented by youths of determination.
by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sat 3 Dec 2022, 7:52 PM

Last updated: Sat 3 Dec 2022, 11:24 PM

Over 40 young people of determination took to the stage for the country’s biggest inclusive talent show in Dubai last week.

The F.A.M.E show saw them grooving to tunes and sashaying down the catwalk at the Dubai World Trade Center. “The youngsters were just amazing,” said Rosy Ahmed, founder of the show whose 26-year-old daughter Hana has Down Syndrome. She created F.A.M.E. - which is an acronym for Fashion, Art, Music and Entertainment - as a free, fun-filled event for everyone in 2016. “I wanted to create a platform that would allow children to showcase their talents,” she said. “Since then, the show has gone from strength to strength with the number of performances increasing every year.”

From fashion shows to musical acts to dance performances, F.A.M.E. had a mix of all kinds of entertainment. This year, the show did a powerful act about bullying, which encouraged students to speak up when being bullied. “Every year, we have children from different ages and backgrounds coming to participate in our show,” said Rebecca Shamji, the show director. “We start rehearsals at least three months in advance so that the performers have enough time to do their best.”

Musical acts and dance performances are part of the annual event.
Musical acts and dance performances are part of the annual event.

Rebecca divides her time between London, Uganda and the UAE and ensures that she comes to Dubai every year in time for F.A.M.E. This year, even having a baby didn't stop her from travelling here. “This show is very close to my heart,” she said. “I have a young seven-month-old so I was a bit worried how I would manage but I wouldn’t miss this show for the world.”

The Showstoppers

The fashion show for participants is one of the most keenly awaited programmes of F.A.M.E. Verano, a 28-year-old from Dubai, has been a regular at the show for three years now. “She absolutely loves participating in the fashion show and the dance performances,” said her father, Tony. “She really enjoys dressing up as well as dancing. If we go to a party and there is a dance floor, I can forget about her for the next two or three hours. When she was younger, she and her brother would dance at home all the time. Her brother now teaches salsa.”

An active sportsperson, Verano has previously won the female person of determination athlete of the year. However, she wasn’t able to channel her love for dance until she came across F.A.M.E. “When she was in school, she had a lot of extracurricular activities,” said Tony. “However, after school, the activities she could do were limited. Through F.A.M.E. she met people like Rosy who go far beyond their call of duty to help Verano and the others to really blossom and flourish as performers.”

Verona performs at F.A.M.E.
Verona performs at F.A.M.E.

According to Tony, the platform has boosted Verano’s confidence. “One of the reasons why people of determination are not able to gain confidence is that they don’t have opportunities to showcase their talents,” he said. “But with the opportunities that F.A.M.E. has given her, Verano has become very confident. She has done internships at a bank and a hotel. She also works in the coffee shop at Mawaheb, the art centre. She is very independent and uses the public transport to get to and from the centre.”

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F.A.M.E. Talent Hub

Spurred by the success of the talent show, Rosy has now begun a weekly talent hub which gives a safe space for people of determination to perform to their heart’s content. Along with Step Up Academy and volunteer teachers, the hub hosts theater and dance classes with mini performances that are staged at various locations.

“We wanted to give our participants an avenue to perform apart from the yearly stage show,” said Rosy. “From the time we started these classes in February this year, we have had steady interest. Right now, we even have a waiting list of people who want to sign up. For me, it has been an amazing experience watching all these young people becoming increasingly confident in their abilities.”

The annual event planned for people of determination also helps boost their confidence. - Supplied photos
The annual event planned for people of determination also helps boost their confidence. - Supplied photos

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