21 September 2004

Back to Community Life (UAE Armenian style)

AZAD-HYE (21 September 2004): September is one of the most active months in the Armenian calendar. Not only students go back to school, but also community leaders and representatives (and normal people) return to their duties. Suddenly the community life gets lively, intensive meetings are held and immediate decisions are taken, especially if the matter involves dancing parties and celebrations.

Abu Dhabi Armenian Weekly School will start on Wednesday 22nd September 2004. Some 50 or 60 students will follow weekly afternoon Armenian language and culture lessons. They will be in touch with their roots and will hear Armenian language in the schoolyard. No Armenian child should be left behind, especially that the fees are nominal. It is very interesting to hear that new techniques will be introduced in the teaching methodology this year, using modern educational materials and concepts.

While the students get prepared for their first Armenian lessons, their parents are invited to the annual Armenian dancing party, which will take place in the Sheraton Hotel on 30th September 2004. For the third or fourth time during the past few years singer Hratch Gaidzagian from Beirut and his band will perform Armenian pop mix. This time another singer from Beirut called Shake Baghdasarian will accompany Hratch. Few months ago an Iraqi Armenian band was trying to convince the community leaders that they are worth also to be invited for a performance in the UAE, but they were not taken seriously, because “nobody knew them”.

Celebrations of Armenian Holy Mass will restart on Friday 24th September 2004, once every two weeks in the Greek Church. In the Gulf countries it is customary to go to church on Fridays, because Sundays are normal working days. The Armenians have one church in the UAE, located in the city of Sharjah (about 2 hours from the capital Abu Dhabi). There are some thoughts to ask the Abu Dhabi Government for a land in the Churches area in the capital, to build an Armenian Church there, but no specific steps have been taken in this direction (only close circle discussions and wishful thinking). The Orthodox Greeks have their own church in Abu Dhabi and the Orthodox Copts have just received approval to build their own church too.

The Armenian Embassy is getting energetic in September. The Independence Day celebration which will take place on 25th September 2004 in the Sheraton Abu Dhabi. Due to the crowded calendar of the Independence Days at the end of September, there is competition to book the dates and hotels for appropriate ceremonies. The Saudi Arabians booked 21st September, and since Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are not popular days for official ceremonies in the UAE, the Armenian Day has been transferred to the next available Saturday. If you like to hear one or two official words on Armenian-Emirati relations, taste some Armenian wines and cookies and chat with some old friends (you can hardly see new faces), this is the place to attend. It is an opportunity to take some photos with the background of the tricolor. Try to occupy a central position in the photos, if you want to use them later for boosting your social status. Enormous cake is served, but you may wonder if the tasteful ingredients are equally distributed in such a big cake.

Unfortunately we are not aware about the activities of the Armenians of Dubai and Sharjah, because the community leaders there have not yet introduced the electronic newsletter system (they use fax and sometimes telex). Only today we received a fax about a lecture that will be delivered by Mrs. Silva Tcharshafian in the Community Hall in Sharjah on 22nd September 2004. The announcement says that Mrs. Silva Tcharshafian is a Canadian-Armenian expert in International Relations and Political Sciences based in Yerevan and specially invited to Sharjah to present her thoughts on the occasion of the Independence Day.

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