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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

UAE Portrait of a Nation: The promising young singer who almost lost her life to diabetes

Talented Samar Frost has her heart set on a professional career having learned to manage her condition

Samar Frost, who has struggled with diabetes since a young child, is hoping to pursue a career in singing. Pawan Singh / The National
Samar Frost, who has struggled with diabetes since a young child, is hoping to pursue a career in singing. Pawan Singh / The National

British-Yemeni Samar Frost has had it very tough over the last decade, but when things got really bleak for the 19-year-old she discovered a talent for singing that turned her life around.

In 2008, when she was 9, the usually cheerful Samar was found slumped and unresponsive at home in Al Zahiya by her Yemeni mother, Kinaia. She bundled the girl into a taxi and rushed to Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi.

On her arrival, medics began to gather specialist equipment around her, explaining there was no time to take Samar upstairs to the intensive care unit because she was slipping into a coma.

They quickly deduced Samar was suffering a potentially fatal hypoglycemic attack because of low levels of blood sugar. For three days, her life hung in the balance before she started to respond to treatment. On waking, Samar was told she had Type 1 diabetes.

Dr Jefferson, the specialist who treated her, told Samar's British father, Vince Frost, he had put the girl's survival chances at less than 30 per cent.

That illness cost Samar a full year off school while her condition was stabilised thanks to a regime of daily insulin injections and a carefully controlled diet.

But that repeat year put Samar out of step with her peer group, and as some friends drifted away she began a slide into a depression that hit rock bottom when her mother died of a heart attack last year, then her grandfather passed away.

Samar's brother Joe, 21, then stepped up to the plate by announcing he would take a year out to look after his sister as Mr Frost was busy as project director at the then uncompleted Louvre Museum on Saadiyat Island.

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But by that time Samar had found her saving grace with a chance at a singing course at her school, the British School – Al Khubairat, in 2016, rather than her double bass lessons. Somewhere deep down it struck a chord, and the turnaround has been spectacular.

Two years later she is a star in the making, having performed at the British Embassy in the capital plus a clutch of concerts last year that culminated in her winning the overall top prize for singing in the school.

Robert Millner, her singing teacher at BSAK, says: "Samar's got it all, and her ability to get inside a song and evoke an emotional response from audiences is uncanny”.

Samar recently recorded her first demo for talent spotters and entertainment companies.

Despite falling behind in her classwork because of her illness, she scored 89 per cent in her Grade 8 Trinity Rock and Pop singing exam, the top level, and won a rarely awarded "distinction" for her performances.

She counts Adele, Cher and Dua Lipa as her musical inspirations but, really, Samar just loves to sing anything from rock and pop to classical.

"I'd like to sing for a living, and I am thinking about auditioning at Rada in England, or theatre work in the West End of London after I leave school next year," she says.

"Bob Marley said: 'One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain'."

"That's the way I feel about singing."

Mr Frost said: "I'm so proud of my family for rallying round to get us all through what's been a very difficult 12 months. And when I see Samar step up to the microphone, it puts a song in my heart."