News > Bahraini, Omani and Saudi Armenians > Archbishop Goriun Babian meets Bahrain and Khobar Armenians
Although the majority of the Armenians in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries live mainly in Kuwait, Sharjah-Dubai and Abu Dhabi, nevertheless, the Armenians in Bahrain and Qatar have recently stepped up their efforts to organize themselves in these two relatively new settlements in the region.
The Prelacy of Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf Countries, based in Kuwait City, extends its jurisdiction over all the Armenians in the region, except Saudi Arabia, where law does not allow organized Christian communities. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have been the most tolerant towards non-Muslim communities. It is worth mentioning that Qatar and Bahrain have recently staged several religious seminars on topics such as dialogue and relationship between religions, especially Islam and Christianity. Only few days ago the first ever Church has been inaugurated in Qatar.
The number of Armenians in Bahrain has always been small. Bahrain is a well-known financial center in the Arabian Gulf, but with fewer natural resources than other GCC countries. Due to this restraining factor, the number of Armenians in Bahrain is not expected to increase in the coming years. At the time being there are some 10 Armenian families in Bahrain. Only few of them have been living there for several decades, while others are constantly in move.
Due to the limited number of the Armenians in Bahrain, there has never been any organized community life in the Kingdom. Bahrain connects with neighboring Saudi Arabia through a 25 kilometers long bridge. On the Saudi side (Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia), huge petroleum producing and processing industries exist. Aramco for instance has its base in Dhahran. About 70-80 Armenians live in the region (in locations such as Khobar, Dammam and Dhahran, all within easy reach between each other). Due to the restrictive life in Saudi Arabia and the scarceness of entertainment options, most of the Armenians there (like many other expatriates who work in the same area) have adopted a lifestyle, according to which they spend their weekends in the neighboring Bahrain.
As law forbids visit of Christian clergy to Saudi Arabia, it has always been a challenge to cater the spiritual needs of the Armenians in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. As a solution, whenever His Grace Archbishop Dr. Goriun Babian (the Catholicosal Representative of the Diocese of Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf countries) visits Bahrain, he uses the opportunity to ask both Bahraini and Khobar Armenians to attend the Holy Mass conducted in Bahrain.
One of the leading personalities in the Bahrain Armenian community is Adrine Khachadourian, who is known – throughout her 30 years presence in Bahrain – as a very competent person, gifted in administrative and public relations, with strong networking skills. In 2004 she facilitated the first ever Armenian Holy Mass in Bahrain, which was conducted in the Anglican Church. The scene was recently repeated on 15th February 2008, in the same location, but with the presence of many new members.
Archbishop Babian conducted the Holy Mass and delivered a sermon, after which he performed a requiem service asking peace for the souls of the deceased. Rev. Aram Deyirmenjian, Parish Priest of the Armenian Community in the UAE, coordinated the liturgical prayers, while Vartan Deacon Avedissian, an Armenians based now in Khobar, served the altar.
In his sermon, Archbishop Babian highly praised the strength and the warmth of the belief of the Bahrain and Khobar Armenians, a fact that has enabled the materialization of this recent visit in a very unique atmosphere. He highlighted Adrine Khachadourian's role in the society as a caring mother who has undertaken a great role in the community life.
Some 50 Armenians from Khobar joined the Bahrain Armenians in this ceremony. The moment was touchy as many of them has not attended religious services for a long time, sometimes for several years. They expressed their feelings of satisfaction and gratification for the carried effort. Another personality worth mentioning is Setrag Dakessian, a Khobar Armenian. Archbishop Babian praised the long time community service of the later.
Following the Holy ceremony, almost all the members attended a reception in the British Club, where the warm and friendly atmosphere eventually evolved to a festive one, including many patriotic songs, combined with toasts and wishes for a better community life.
The attendants were very satisfied and they expressed their thanks to Archbishop Babian for his initiative, but wished that such events took place at least twice a year.
Sources: Prelacy of Kuwait and Arabian Gulf Counties, Azad-Hye, Gulf published media.
P. O. BOX 8157, Salmiyeh 22052
Rev. Aram Deyirmenjian, Parish Priest of the Armenian
Community in the UAE, coordinates the liturgical prayers
Adrine Khachadourian accepts the Holy Communion
Archbishop Dr. Goriun Babian addresses the
members gathered in the "British Club"
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