Armenian News-NEWS.am agency together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia continues a series of interviews titled “Talk with Ambassador”. This week our guest is Armenia's Ambassador to UAE Gegham Gharibjanyan.
Your Excellency, in which domains will Armenia develop relations with UAE?
UAE recognized Armenia's independence in 1991, and diplomatic relations between the states were established on June 25, 1998.
In September 2000, the Armenian Embassy opened in UAE, and in 2008 the building of Armenian embassy was constructed in Abu Dhabi thanks to the Armenian benefactors and on the land provided by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Armenia attaches great importance to multilateral relations with the Gulf states, in particular with the UAE. There have been numerous mutual visits between Armenia and UAE, and around three dozens of documents have been signed.
In recent years, there is a trend for development of relations in trade, economic, and political, scientific and cultural fields. Activities are underway to expand the legal field of bilateral relations.
Active bilateral cooperation was formed within international organizations.
There is a huge potential that has not been used, which, through mutual efforts, will open new horizons for relations between Armenia and the Emirates. Here, of course, he Armenian Embassy in the UAE has an important role as well as the newly opened embassy in Yerevan. Embassy is the first link for communication between representatives of political, economic and cultural circles.
Armenians have been settling in Arabia since the late Middle Ages. Please, tell us about our community in the United Arab Emirates.
Back in fifteenth century Armenian merchants were actively involved in trade between East and West through the Persian Gulf. But the bulk of the Armenian community began to settle in the United Arab Emirates after 1975. They were coming from Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Armenia, Russia, European countries, USA and Canada. Nowadays, according to rough estimates, there are 8-10 thousand Armenians in UAE.
In 1980 an Armenian school “Harut Hovhannisyan” opened in n Sharjah. National life is governed by the Diocesan Assembly led by the head of the diocese.
On November 15, 1998 Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I consecrated the church of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Sharjah. The church is a part of a complex, including a school and a ballroom.
There is no print media, but there are two websites: emahay.com and azad-hay.net. Ninety percent of the Armenians living in UAE are representatives of state agencies and NGOs. They are involved in construction, engineering and trade.
In 2006 UAE Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with a special decree, granted to the Armenian community of Abu Dhabi territory for the construction of a church and a community center.
On December 2014 the Church of the Holy Martyrs of Abu Dhabi was consecrated with the participation of Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I.
Arab geographer Ibn Hawqal wrote about uniqueness of Armenian fabric and carpets back in the tenth century. What can we offer the UAE consumers and investors today?
Even before establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and UAE, there were trade and economic ties on the personal initiative of the entrepreneurs from the two countries.
Armenia exported equipment, copper, aluminum, precious and semi-precious stones, shoes, artwork, antiques, and imported electrical equipment, construction materials, food products and consumer goods.
One of the key programs is a $10 million credit from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development for the construction of Arpa-Sevan tunnel, as well as renovation of Haghartsin Monastery that was funded by Sharjah emir Sheikh Sultan III bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi.
The embassy is working to hold a meeting of Armenia-UAE intergovernmental commission.
I think that a joint business forum that was held in Armenia's commerce chamber last year played a significant role in deepening of trade and economic ties.
Given that Abu Dhabi is home to the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the embassy is involved in the organization of cooperation in the field of renewable energy.
There are cooperation proposals in a number of sectors of bilateral cooperation, particularly in the chemical, jewelery and diamond cutting, mining industry. Promising sector is agriculture with several programs being under discussion. In addition, the sides expressed interest in further development of cooperation in tourism.
Three air companies – FlyDubai, Air Arabia and Etihad – are operating direct flights to Yerevan.
Armenia has been also granted ten scholarships in MASDAR university.
Arab community, as a rule, is sympathetic to the historical memory of Armenians. How will the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide be marked in the UAE?
Just as in other Armenian communities, the Armenian embassy in UAE with the active participation of the local Armenians is preparing to mark centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The Embassy will start distribution of information materials ahead of April 24.
In 2014, a khachkar was installed in the courtyard of the new Church of the Holy Martyrs in Abu Dhabi, built in memory of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. The khachkar was donated by the family of Ambassador Gharibjanian. Cross-stone was consecrated by the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I.
Many events will be held in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, the most important of which is the evening in memory of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24 in Abu Dhabi, in the hall of the Armenian Embassy. The event will be followed by a concert with the participation of Armenian musicians. Funeral liturgy will be held in Abu Dhabi and in Sharjah.
You have been serving as a diplomat for many years. Your wishes to the young diplomats, the diplomats who will represent Armenia in the future.
Believe in the future of your homeland and the state.