News > UAE Armenians > Azeri community leader in UAE talks about the Armenians
Mr. Samir Iman, Head of Azerbaijani diaspora organization in the United Arab Emirates
Azeri community leader in UAE misrepresents facts related to the Armenians
In a rather strange interview with Day.AZ Azeri information website, Mr. Samir Iman, the head of the Azerbaijani community in the United Arab Emirates, dedicated more than half of his time to talk about the Armenian community (instead of talking about his own community), providing details about the number of Armenians in the country, where they meet and what they do, where they originally come from and at what level is their knowledge of Arabic language, etc.
Following this introduction Mr. Iman expressed his view that "despite the relatively large number of Armenians, they cannot do anything openly or stage any propaganda ... we can say that the Armenian diaspora in the UAE is dead and is hardly felt here".
He claimed that the Armenians "took advantage" of Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Yerevan last year and published an article in a well known daily in Dubai (Gulf News), in which they said Azerbaijan "imposed a blockade on Karabakh and wanted to occupy it". Following his intensive efforts the same newspaper, he claimed, published a new article in which the Azeri positions were emphasized.
Mr. Iman concluded his interview stating that he has been busy during the last two years distributing in the UAE and in other Gulf countries an anti-Armenian book and another book glorifying Azeri ex-leader Hayder Aliev.
Azad-Hye Middle East Armenian Website has tried to locate the above two articles in the newspaper’s online archives, but was not able to find anything of the kind.
First of all the Armenian presence in the UAE goes back to the fifties of the last century. Six of the ten big companies in the early years in Abu Dhabi (in the 1960s) were managed by Armenians. The first licences in the industrial area in the Emirate of Sharjah were issued to Armenian-owned companies. This is aside from numerous Armenians who served as managers of trading companies, banks, chief engineers, chief accountants, financial advisors as well as in other economic disciplines throughout the Emirates.
The status of the Armenians in the UAE has improved even more during the last decades. There is a permanent Armenian Church with community center in Sharjah and another one to be built in Abu Dhabi soon. Hundreds of Armenian children continue to attend weekly lessons in Armenian language and civilization. Many organizations function. According to Azad-Hye the total number of Armenian events during 2008 was about 92, excluding the regular church ceremonies. The Armenian annual ball is one of the most known social events in Dubai.
In 2008, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of organized community life, the Council of the Armenian Community in the Northern Emirates (Dubai, Sharjah, etc) has published a well documented book, in which details were given about the presence of the Armenians in the country and the progress of the community until recent times.
For over twenty years the Abu Dhabi Cultural Association has been arranging different mega cultural activities at least twice a year. These include famous Armenian orchestras from Armenia, quartets and small musical groups from Armenia, Europe and several Arab countries where Armenians live, as well as exhibitions of works of Armenian painters and sculptors.
Since 2000 the Armenian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has been arranging yearly Armenian cultural weeks with the participation of specially invited individuals and groups from Armenia.
Azad-Hye website has covered thousands of topics since its establishment in 2003, with more than 60 thousand monthly visitors. It has contributors in several countries and an online Armenian radio station.
It is obvious that Mr. Iman wants to please his single-sided readers and score well with his government, but his attempts and analytical exercises are so naive that at a certain point they can embarrass or, to be more precise, mislead the Azeris. A quick reading of the above basic facts reveals how shallow the pool of information Mr. Iman commands.
Read below the interview that appeared in Day.Az (original language is kept intact).
Armenian diaspora in UAE is dead
07 August 2009 [11:59] - Today.Az
Head of Azerbaijani diaspora organization in the United Arab Emirates Samir Iman spoke in an interview with Day.Az.
How many Azerbaijanis live in UAE at the moment?
Azerbaijani diaspora of the United Arab Emirates comprises about 1,000 people including all family members. Most of Azerbaijanis live in Dubai and Sharjah as major cities are located in these two emirates.
As you know, the law of this country does not allow foreigners to obtain citizenship regardless of how many years they lived here. That is why the number of our compatriots are not so great. Talking about their employment, it is safe to note that they are represented in all areas including business and medicine and in half-governmental agencies. For example, an Azerbaijani works as chief engineer at Sharjah emirate TV channel. Our doctors work in public hospitals. Chief editor of Russian magazine Aviamost which is published here is Azerbaijani, too. Our countrywoman works for local newspaper Khaleej Times.
Lot of our young people are enrolled in high schools in UAE. I note that at the American University of Dubai has opened up Department of Journalism two years ago. It would be nice if our students would come to this department, but not only business, management or design departments. Indeed, in the future this will enable them to skilfully write about the culture and history of Azerbaijan and the Karabakh issue.
How local population treats Azerbaijanis in the UAE?
Azerbaijanis in UAE live well. The attitude of local authorities and population to us is positive. The country respect the laws very well, so people who come to the UAE for the first time faced some problems due to lack of knowledge of laws but with time everything falls into place
It is known there is large Armenian diaspora in the UAE. Please tell us how many people it comprises and in what it is engaged?
Some 10,000 Armenians live in the Emirates. They are mostly from Lebanon, Syria and some from Palestine. In this regard, it is easy for them to get adapted to life here because of knowledge of the Arabic language. Almost all of them have an Arab education. Armenians from Armenia is not so much.
They are also represented in all spheres of life: business and civil service. Despite a relatively large number, they can not do anything.
Friday is a day-off in the Muslim world. In Sharjah there is Armenian church where they go on that day. Here, children learn their native language, culture, discuss their problems, including the issue of Karabakh.
But they can not do anything openly or stage any propaganda. We can say that the Armenian diaspora in the UAE is dead and is hardly felt here.
Last year, Gulf News newspaper published an article about Turkish president’s visit to Armenia. Only then Armenians, taking advantage of the opportunity, were able to print in a newspaper that allegedly with the support of Turkey Azerbaijan has imposed a blockade on Karabakh and wanted to occupy it. After reading this article, I decided to force the newspaper to correct the errors and punish them for their lies. I succeeded to do it in a month . It took a lot of efforts. All the authorities were informed in a written form that the paper was engaged in anti-Emirate propaganda.
As a result, after a great pressure from local authorities, the newspaper published a new article, which included the following: “Karabakh is historical Azerbaijani land occupied by Armenian extremists, thus killing thousands of innocent people.” We must always be alert and monitor the press, both Arab and English speaking.
Over the past two years I have been signed and handed two books entitled “Armenian terrorism” and “Heydar Aliyev, National and Spiritual Values” by writer Adel Abdullah Al-Fallahi, chairman of the State Committee for Religious Affairs of Kuwait, to all government institutions and other organizations.