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Prom night in Abu Dhabi, from shop to the dance floor

Prom night in Abu Dhabi, from shop to the dance floor

 Prom night is a rite of passage for teenagers around the world, including the UAE. Tahira Yaqoob chaperones as Al Yasmina School's graduating class get glam and enjoy their big night. Photos by Silvia Razgova / The NationalAl Yasmina School students enjoy their prom last Saturday night at the Fairmont Bab al Bhar hotel in Abu Dhabi.A stretch limo waits as Jessie Lyle helps her prom date Nic Kerkmeester with the corsage before heading out for their prom at the Fairmont hotel.Family and friends help with the final touches as Jessica gets ready at home for her big night at Al Yasmina School prom last Saturday night.Helped by her friend Andrea Inglis, Jessica Vickery tries on the dress she designed with help from her mother during a fitting at Textilee tailors.With just two days to go before prom, Jessica Wickey flinches as she gets a manicure and a pedicure (her toenails will match her dress).The proud mother Nicci Korff smiles as her son Will picks out a tie as they shop for prom suits at the Karoon Co men's clothing store in Abu Dhabi.Liam Troup from Scotland plays the waiting game while his female friends shop for shoes and accessories at Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall.

The clock is ticking and the limo engine is running but Jessica Vickery is in the middle of a meltdown.

"Nothing goes with anything else - I hate the way this looks!" she wails inconsolably, scrubbing furiously at her face to tone down her make-up.

She peers into a mirror covered in pink Post-it revision notes, has one last attempt at making her eyelashes curl and flops disconsolately onto her floral duvet under a poster of John Lennon to shove her feet into strappy sandals showing off her bright turquoise painted toenails.

She does, of course, look perfect; her shoulder-length brown hair, usually left hanging straight for school, is in ringlets and piled high in an elegant up-do, her fresh-faced youthful complexion is glowing under her first attempt at a makeover and a flowing turquoise silk chiffon gown, cut daringly low at the back, shows off her slender figure.

Little wonder, then, that as she wobbles uncertainly down the grand staircase of the family home in Abu Dhabi, her father John and mother Kate are rendered temporarily speechless.

"You look absolutely beautiful," whispers her choked father, then says, turning to his wife: "They are growing up so fast. She looks so much older than she is, it makes me quite scared."

Tonight is the most important night of the school year, possibly even in the history of her school. But it is not graduation day nor GCSE exams that have been preoccupying Jessica and the other 44 pupils in year 11.

As Al Yasmina School in Al Raha turns two years old and its first batch of students turn 16, there has only been one subject under discussion in the locker rooms, between lessons and in the playground: what to wear at the school's first ever prom.

From the dresses and shoes to boutonnieres and corsages, the pupils have been endlessly debating who is wearing what for months. Even the boys are in on the act with many having to purchase a suit for the first time.

"We have been planning this for months," says Andrea Inglis, 16. "We are going to have to live with the memory of what we wear to the prom for the rest of our lives, so it has to be perfect. Everyone gets a bit competitive. I want heads to turn when I walk in the ballroom."

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