Two youngsters from the UAE captured our collective imaginations this year, going viral with their life-changing appearances – one on American TV and the other on the world stage at the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Peter Rosalita, 10, who was born in Abu Dhabi to Filipino parents, became an internet sensation in June when his audition for the 16th season of reality TV show America’s Got Talent was posted on YouTube.
Meanwhile Mira Singh, 11, who was born in Dubai to an Indian father and a Belarusian mother, was cast as the main character for the star-studded opening ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai, which was watched by the world.
'May it be a year where we can return to full health'
"I hope that 2022 will be a good year for everyone, that we will finally beat Covid-19," Peter, a Grade 5 student from Richmindale school in Abu Dhabi, tells The National. "I hope that prosperity greets all of us and that we can welcome a fresh start where we can look forward to the fulfilment of our dreams and aspirations.
"May it be a year where we can return to full health and not be afraid of going out anymore."
Peter, who did not make it to the top 10 finalists on the viewer-voted show, told The National that he "felt sad and confused" right after his elimination, but that he was grateful for the the "once-in-a-lifetime experience" 2021 brought him.
"[America's Got Talent] has given me the chance to fulfil one of my dreams and taught me a lot of valuable lessons that I will be taking with me as I continue to pursue my singing,” he said in September.
In October, Peter appeared on the long-running The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Ellen DeGeneres told him he was "beautiful".
"I watched you on America's Got Talent and I just thought you were beautiful. Your songs are amazing. So good," DeGeneres told the youngster.
Peter, who's been winning local awards for his singing, says he hopes more opportunities will come for him in 2022.
"My dreams are always close to my heart and I hope that 2022 will open up more doors of opportunity for me to grow as an artist and propel my career further," he says.
'I definitely want to do movies'
Mira, an aspiring actress and singer, became an overnight star after the spectacular opening ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai on September 30. The youngster is a known face in the UAE modelling scene, but it was her turn as a young girl on whom the ceremony's narrative is centred, that would lead to people searching for her name.
Within days, Mira was inundated with offers.
“I am speechless. My life has changed a lot since the opening ceremony,” she told The National a few days after her appearance. “I didn’t think it would be so big and the fame would be like ‘wow’. I’ve been receiving a lot of offers, projects and commercials."
Mira says she hopes 2022 "will be much better than the last two years".
"I definitely want to do some big projects like movies. And I wish I will be able to travel and visit my two countries where I am from," she says.
She also would like to travel to California and study acting as well as learn to sing like a professional "and brush up my piano skills" as well as dance moves.
"I want to spend more time with my friends because it was not easy in 2021," she says. "And I want to concentrate more on my studies and make 2022 an amazing year."