A few decades ago, Armenians, mostly single men, came to the UAE to work for a few years and return to their homeland with some financial security. But, thanks to the hospitable environment, the newcomers stayed, got established and the community started growing.
In 1979, a young clergyman, Father Oshagan Choloyan, from the Holy See of Cilicia, in Antelias, Lebanon, visited the area to evaluate the Armenian communities living there. What he found was very encouraging. There was a church and a school in Kuwait, which kept the community lively and active. The Armenian Community in the United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, was just getting itself organized. So, by 1980, Father Oshagan was established in Kuwait as a Pontifical Legate for the area including Kuwait and the Gulf countries.
Since then, Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates have become well-organized communities with Community Councils, various sub-committees, a Church and a Community Center in Sharjah. Both communities have established weekly schools where Armenian children come together to learn the Armenian language. The community has grown and prospered thanks to the hospitality of the late president of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan and his successor Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The prelacy of the region is in Kuwait. His Eminence Archbishop Gorun Babian is the Catholicosal Vicar Legate to the region. A National Representative's Assembly meets once a year to review and evaluate the overall status of the communities in Kuwait, the Northern Emirates and Abu Dhabi. The pastor of the United Arab Emirates is Father Aram Deyirmendjian who takes care of the spiritual life of the Armenians living in the Emirates, celebrates Mass and teaches in both weekly schools.
Several social and cultural activities are organized in the three main Armenian concentrations (Kuwait, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi), where both Armenians and non-Armenians come together to enjoy various social and cultural functions.
In May 2000, an Armenian Embassy was established in Abu Dhabi through the efforts and financial undertaking of the Armenians living in all Gulf countries. Armenian Airlines fly twice weekly from Dubai to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. About 300 citizens of Armenia are residing in the UAE.
The estimated number of Diasporan Armenians in Kuwait is 4000, the UAE Northern Emirates 2200 and in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 700. The Diasporan Armenians living in the Gulf have many nationalities, mainly they are from Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, US, Canada, Australia, etc.
The main executive body in the three cities is the Community Council(s), which supervises the function of the different sub-committees (women and youth associations, etc.). It commemorates the important event on the Armenian calendar, tries to help the needy individuals of families, welcomes visitors from other Armenian Communities, etc.
In Kuwait the All Armenian Sports Organization (Homenetmen) and Armenian Scout Movement both have branches. In Abu Dhabi and Dubai the Armenian Cultural Association is active since 1989 and has organized many important Armenian cultural events. The Sunday School in Abu Dhabi has been functional since more than twenty years.