The Dubai Rose Ball will select one lucky girl to be an ambassador for the emirate in Ireland’s Rose of Tralee
‘It’s not a beauty pageant or a talent contest; it concentrates more on all-round good character and personality.’ It sounds like an unconvincing politically correct defence of a Miss World competition, but Aileen McCarthy is talking about the annual Dubai Rose contest, now in its 16th year. McCarthy is a member of the Rose Committee and a former Dubai Rose. She explains that the contest gathers together the brightest and most engaging young Irish women living in Dubai and selects one to represent the emirate at the annual Rose of Tralee event in Ireland. Which, Time Out hears, is a pretty big deal.
The Rose of Tralee has been the biggest annual event in Ireland since 1959. Screened on TV, it attracts around two million viewers every year, from people holding Rose of Tralee parties, to revellers down the pub. Being crowned the rose is a dream for thousands of young Irish girls from childhood, and Irish contestants selected from all over the world will travel to the main event in August, each hoping to take the ultimate prize.
So who will be Dubai’s rose? Well, that’s what the Dubai Rose Ball on May 22 will decide. Held in the ballroom at the Westin hotel, guests sit down to a five-course meal while the potential roses are interviewed on stage (by Irish TV personality Daithi O’Shea, no less – and we’ve all heard of him), each trying to convince the judges why they should be the rose, and even showcasing a special talent. At the end of the evening the judges will make their decision, so if you pop along you’ll be the first to know who gets crowned this year’s Dubai Rose.
And so, without further ado, Time Out meets two potential roses, and tries to understand what all the fuss is about…
Debra Spillane, teacher, Dubai
‘I’m from Kerry where the event is held every year – Tralee is in the county of Kerry.
‘Every year growing up myself and my three sisters would sit and watch it on TV. My younger sister has Down syndrome and every year when it was on she’d say, “One day you’ll be a rose.” I suppose it’s [for] my family and my sister really, and while I’m here it’s an absolutely fantastic opportunity, so I said, “Why not?”
‘A rose should be someone who is just themselves. Myself, I’m just as friendly as can be. I see the best in everyone, which I think is a great trait. If that comes across I’ll be very happy with that.’
Colleen Bryne, born in Sharjah and grew up in Dubai
‘I was around for the first Rose Ball in Dubai, when I was nine years old, I think, so I always looked up to the girls and wanted to be like them. Having lived in Dubai for some years, I wanted to represent Dubai; I’ve always been very proud of growing up here, but also of being very Irish as well.
‘A rose should be someone that’s kind and caring, intelligent and has a good sense of humour; someone that represents the young, Irish today. For my special talent I hope to play the flute, I think. It’s been a while (laughs). But it’ll come together, I’m sure.’ Will Colleen master the flute in time? Does anyone really know who Daithi O’Shea is? Attend the ball on May 22 at the Westin hotel, Al Sufouh Road, to find out. Dhs400 for members of the Irish Society, Dhs450 for non-members. Arrive 7pm for cocktail reception. Tickets call 050 658 1745 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Buy tickets from http://www.irishsocietydubai.com