With a little more than a week to go before she heads to Las Vegas to compete with other Mrs World 2022 hopefuls from around the world, it's crunch time for Pamala Serena, the UAE's representative.
"Preparations are very stressful as we had one month to do everything and so much to organise, but we're getting there," she tells The National.
The British business consultant, who is of Indian descent, and who has called the UAE home for 12 years, is only the second beauty queen to represent the UAE at Mrs World. The annual contest, which “celebrates the uniqueness of married women”, has been held since 1984, and will take place at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on December 16 and 17.
Serena, who was picked from 18 contestants to be named Mrs UAE World 2022, says representing the country on a global stage "means everything".
“I am a UK-born Indian with a heart filled with culture, but emotion derived from the UAE. Together, we represent a culture of perfection, exactly what the land represents," she says. "It’s a dream come true and I’m so proud and honoured."
Unlike other global beauty pageants, Mrs World does not stipulate citizenship for contestants representing various countries, as long as they've been vetted and picked by an approved body or organisation.
In January, Indian beauty queen Debanjali Kamstra became the first contestant to represent the UAE at Mrs World 2021. Kamstra made it to the top three in the global pageant, won by Mrs American Shaylyn Ford. Mrs Jordan Jaclyn Stapp was named first runner-up.
Jiss Victor, a fashion industry veteran who was recently named the national director for Mrs UAE World, calls Serena "a born leader".
"She has a strong heart to work for women's empowerment and special children. I am sure she will make the UAE proud by winning the Mrs World title," he says.
Serena, who was also named Mrs Universe Dubai 2021, says she is proud to showcase the UAE's hospitality towards citizens from around the world.
"The UAE has made every resident feel a part of their community. Since arriving in Dubai, I have seen it grow to become one of the most prominent cities in the world and as such I’m privileged to represent such a welcoming place," she says.
She has been working with a number of designers and says she will highlight the country's pearling traditions through her national costume.
"Pearl diving in the UAE goes back more than 7,000 years ago, a time when UAE pearls travelled to Rome, Venice, Sri Lanka and India. The UAE's pearls were one of the most sought-after accessories of the time and we wanted to create something original to represent that history of the UAE," she says.
Serena is a psychology graduate who is also an ambassador of peace for the UN.
"Honored, humbled and grateful to be the reigning Mrs UAE World 2022," she wrote on Instagram after her title was made official.
"If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."