On 1st April 2011 Armenians in the United Arab Emirates were invited to take part in the Diocesan elections to elect 9 representatives (5 from Sharjah, Dubai and other Northern Emirates and 4 from Abu Dhabi).
These were the fifth elections since 1994 when the area was announced part of the Prelacy of Kuwait and Arabian Gulf Countries.
The solidarity of the community in helping the Armenian earthquake victims in 1988, the construction of the Sharjah Armenian Church in 1998 and the support shown to the Armenian Embassy in since its inauguration in 2000 were three landmark events in the community life.
UAE Armenians have one church, one community center, two weekly schools and around 30 councils, committees, bodies and organizations (see list below). This may indicate a strong community life for a population of 4.000, but the reality is somehow different.
The recent elections showed that only 180 people from UAE are directly involved in community life and are willing to have some form of participation in future activities. In Sharjah, both Varouj Nerguizian and Haygaz Tahmasian received 122 votes, while another two long-time representatives Hrayr Soghomonian and Ara Keusseyan received 109 and 83 votes respectively. The only newcomer Garbis Khorozian secured 84 votes.
In Abu Dhabi we have the following results: Dr. Vartkes Arzoumanian 24 votes, Vahe Yeretsian 20 votes, Setrag Der Melkonian 17 votes and Zareh Amadouni 16 votes.
Khorozian?s election to the Diocesan body could be seen as the beginning of a new phase. He is young and energetic and has a specific plan in his mind. He published his program and took part in pre-election discussions in the UAE Armenian Forum on Facebook. “We cannot imagine how Khorozian can work with the old guard and develop something for the benefit of the new generation. He looks like someone who is thrown into deep dungeon”, commented Matios Tcholakian.
“The majority of the newcomers in UAE are highly qualified computer-savvy young urban Armenians, sometimes with not so well knowledge of Armenian language and traditions. The old mechanisms in place are not enough to attract them”, said Hrach Kalsahakian, founder of Azad-Hye in Dubai. “An outdated constitution with numerous flaws, an arrogant attitude towards other Armenians and a bizarre understanding of political correctness, have created a ghetto inside a ghetto. The real challenge is in broadening community participation from the current shameful 3% level to at least 30-50% as a first stage. It is a waste of resources to maintain so many community bodies for around two hundred registered members, half of whom appear only at election time”, he stressed.
A community member who preferred not to disclose her name defended the old Diocesan representatives. “They are experienced people who have good connections with higher authorities in this country and proven track of leadership. They have built the Church in Sharjah and the Embassy of Armenia in Abu Dhabi. It is true that sometimes they act like overprotective parents and have super ego, but the elections showed that they have earned the respect of the voters”, she said.
– Candidates Hrach Kalsahakian and Paren Hovsepian (Sharjah) were not elected.
– In Abu Dhabi the number of candidates was exactly as the number of the seats (4 candidates).
– Only Hrach Kalsahakian and Garbis Khorozian had a program. The other candidates did not see any necessity in announcing about their plans.
– All candidates except Hrach Kalsahakian and Garbis Khorozian forwarded their applications on the last day of the deadline.
A draft list of Armenian organizations and committees in UAE:
Diocesan Council (Dubai and Northern Emirates)
Diocesan Council (Abu Dhabi)
National Council in Sharjah and Northern Emirates
National Council in Abu Dhabi
Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church Committee in Sharjah
Armenian Church Committee in Abu Dhabi
Church Choir in Sharjah
Church Choir in Abu Dhabi
Church Construction Committee in Abu Dhabi
School Board of Trustees of Armenian Ohannesian School in Sharjah
School Board of Trustees of the Armenian School in Abu Dhabi
Cultural and Social Commitee in Sharjah
Sports Committee in Sharjah
Arts Committee in Sharjah
Ladies' Committee in Sharjah
Ladies' Committee in Abu Dhabi
Sunday School Committee in Sharjah
Sunday School Committee in Abu Dhabi (Sahag-Mesrob)
Armenian Youth House in Sharjah
Armenian Youth House in Abu Dhabi
Armenian Family Law Consultative Body in the UAE
Hye Lounge in Dubai
Azad-Hye Group in Dubai
AGBU Chapter in UAE
AGBU Young Professionals in Dubai
Armenian Cultural Association in Abu Dhabi
UAE Armenian Forum in Dubai
Armenian Relief Society Dubai / Sharjah region
Hamazkayin Educational & Cultural Association in UAE
Kessabtsiz Belot tournament organizing committee
FROM AZAD-HYE PHOTO ALBUM