AZAD-HYE (16 October 2004): The first UAE cultural delegation visited Armenia from 8-15 October 2004. It consisted of Eid Al Faraj (Head of the Cultural Department in the UAE Ministry of Culture and Information) and two artists: pianist Sultan Al Khatib and oud player Sultan Al Qubaisi.
The "two Sultans", as they are known in the UAE, had two performances: one in Yerevan on 11th October and the second in the city of Gyumri on 13th October.
On 12th October they appeared live on Anna Avanesian's morning program (Armenian Public TV), accompanied by Hovhannes Asadiran, a known figure in the Arabic division of Radio Armenia, who translated the conversation.
Eid Al Faraj said that the duet came into life when two different musical schools (western and eastern) met. This happened when oud player Sultan Al Qubaisi started taking classic music lessons from instructor Sultan Al Khatib. Exchange of views led to the idea of combining piano and oud in performing classical masterpieces.
Referring to this experience Sultan Al Khatib said that the instrument of oud has added to the classical music a touch of Arabic oriental nostalgia. He expressed his satisfaction that the duet's international debut took place in the Yerevan Music School (Conservatory). "We visited different museums and cultural sites in Yerevan. We saw the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia and traditional dance performances. Armenian culture is very much known worldwide. It is enough to mention the name of Aram Khatchaturian. In Armenia we felt that we are in a culturally very rich country".
Sultan Al Qubaisi confessed that he did not expect all the hospitality and welcome that he witnessed from the first moment of his arrival in Armenia. "It was beyond my imagination. We visited churches and historical sites and had a very nice time". Soon after his comments he invited the TV audience to enjoy listening live to one of his oud plays.
At the end of the meeting Eid Al Faraj expressed his gratitude for the sincere attention they received from the people and the organizers alike. "It was a memorable experience to be in Armenia, a perfect start for our international project. I cannot find the right words to show my gratefulness. I would like to take this opportunity on Public TV to thank all those who were behind our visit. You must know that there are unknown soldiers who work hard to achieve such events. I specifically refer to the Armenian Cultural Association in the UAE, which is the base of such cultural exchanges. The members of that Association are sincere Ambassadors of Armenia, long before diplomatic ties were established between our two countries".