(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) After clearing the tough semifinals, the day finally arrived for 55 finalists in three categories to battle it out for the coveted Muscat Daily Listen Up trophies.
The excitement was palpable as parents, siblings and teachers filled up the seats at the Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel on Friday to watch the finalists have a go at victory.
Students from Ayesha Um Al Mo-meneen School for Girls, Samail Samad School for Girls and Sohar International School travelled hundreds of kilometers to participate in the event.
On stage, emotion, wit, confidence and charm ruled. Not everyone took home a trophy and yet, every contestant was a winner. Top three winners were picked from each category “ junior, middle and senior.
When nine year old Ghaliya Hamed Abdullah al Mahrizi from the junior category took to the stage to speak on My dream job', she was confidence personified. ''I want to be a doctor even though I had thought of being a pharmacist like my mom. But if I become a doctor I will serve the people better,'' the Al Inshirah Private School student said. Ghaliya won the top prize, an iPad, which she has no plans of sharing with anyone, and credited her teacher for her win.
The first runner-up was Joseph Geoffrey Clarke from the Teaching and Learning Communities (TLC) International School. Tinged with the pain of loss, his speech on My best friend' reminisced the happy moments he spent with her, his sister. ''I thought she would live with me forever, but she passed away.''
Originality worked for Zain Ashfaque Nagarji, a Beaconhouse School student. His dream job, he said, was to be a tennis player and ''travel the world''. He dedicated his second runner-up spot to his parents. ''My mother helped me with my speech and I wasn't nervous. I just spoke what I felt. This trophy is for my mother and father.''
Next came The Baggage, a superbly presented skit by Beaconhouse School students and scripted by their teacher Ann Pinto. Through the skit, the students showed that each one of us carries a baggage “ a bad day, thoughts of the future, hope, expectations, worry or fear “ and how we need to understand and live with it.
Ten year old Sultan Mohammed al Qasmi belied his age emceeing the event. The student of Royal Guard of Oman Technical College peppered his anchoring with wit and punchlines that had the audience in splits.
The contest got tougher in the next category which saw 2 finalists battle it out. ''I work harder than my brother and I get awards and laurels home, while he brings torn jeans and filthy shoes,'' Rinad Nasser Mubarak al Mazrui reasoned in her speech Why I deserve more pocket money'. Quite an honest feeling this one, and little wonder that it won this Beaconhouse School student the first place.
Wadhah al Rashdi from Al Sahwa School (Who is better, boys or girls?') was the first runner-up. ''I think, both men and women are better in their own capacities. I hope you like my arguments. At least I have answered better than Google.''
Speaking on the same topic as Rinad, Nawaf al Shezawi from Sohar International School said inflation should be considered too. ''I have had bad experiences with less pocket money.'' Nawaf won a thunderous applause and the second runner-up position, which he shared with Sachit Anand of Indian School Ghubra, On Who is better, boys or girls?' Sachit's speech rightly mirrored the thoughts and actions of his peers. ''Both are mutually important and good. Boys exist to impress girls with their biceps, while girls buy stilettos to win men's attention.''
Before the senior category contestants took to the mic, Voliveti Vasantha of Indian School Seeb beautifully presented Adele's Rolling In The Deep, followed by the soundtrack Let It Go performed by girls from Baraka bint Thalaba School.
The speeches grew mature in the senior segment. From among 20 contestants, Rabiya Zeeshan of Sohar International School sealed the top spot by engaging the audience in her speech on If women ruled the world'. ''They would certainly rule it in a better way as it's ruling multiple households. I take my inspiration from women. We are the Monalisa in the picture...women have been great leaders.''
Azzan bin Qais School's Quinn Rose Mcveigh was named the first runner-up for her well-researched and impressive speech on the same topic.
Can we tell our teachers what's on our mind?' Malvika Mohan of Indian School Darsait said she didn't think so. ''I can't tell the teacher that the class is boring and I can't stop thinking about the movie that I saw last night or if the teacher's dressing sense is not great.'' She shared the second runner-up spot with Rehab Ezzat al Sayyed from Baraka bint Thalaba School who felt women could rule the world, ''but it would not be an impressive idea''.
The contest culminated with Taylor Swift's Safe and Sound performed by Swati S of Indian School Seeb and Hall of Fame by the Baraka bint Thalaba School's girl band.
On the judges panel were Jane Jaffer, Saniya Chugtai and Michele Ni Thoghdha. ''It has been an amazing event and it was extremely difficult to judge. All the participants here have been fantastic. We thank Muscat Daily and appreciate efforts of the organisers in holding such events where students take away something,'' said Michele. Saniya said, ''It has been a pleasure to see the support of family and friends of these participants. The energy level and buzz were high. Everyone made a great audience.''
Nasser al Muzuri, a parent called for more such competitions. ''I am extremely thankful to the organisers. We want more such competitions which