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Armenian Annual Ball 2008Azad-Hye special
The Armenian Annual Ball in Dubai has been one of the most anticipated social events in this booming city. This year the event took place on 31st January 2008, with the presence of 450 persons.  
Dubai is known for its daily cultural, social and entertainment life, attracting tourists from many countries. Burj Al-Arab, The Palm, Madinat Jumeirah, Global Village, Festival City and (in the near future) Dubailand, Falcon City etc, will be the highlights on the agenda of millions of tourists visiting this bustling Middle Eastern hub. But for the residents there are limited events with local flavor and more intimate nature, one of these being the Armenian Annual Ball.
The organizers of the event have managed to market it successfully to non-Armenian public. More than half of the attendants are friends of the Armenian community, partners and associates who have business and social relationship with them. This reflects the spirit of Dubai, where hundreds of nationalities live together in a harmonious way.
The majority of the Middle Class Armenian families in the UAE are refraining from attending such glamorous events, in an effort to ease their overburdened budgets. The entry fee is one hundred US dollars (with a hundred percent increase in the last two years only) and the smallest amount for gift prizes is US$ 140. The fees are the highest in the Armenian world. Although the affluent Armenians are able to be there, those who are obliged to work hard to make the ends meet, must look forward to more traditional and less glitzy social events, such as the Easter Party (the traditional cracking of the eggs) or … may consider attending the activities of the newly formed Hye Lounge and Hayer groups with their relatively young public.  
The organizers however are happy and amply satisfied. One of them said to Azad-Hye that the aim of the event is fundraising and securing revenues for the needs of the Community. As long as this target is achieved, there should be no place for complaints, he commented. Another member argued that all Armenians living in the UAE can afford to attend the event if they consider to put it earlier on their agenda and prepare for it in a dutiful manner. “Everybody knows that this is a one-time event, a kind of a show, which is highly beneficial to the Community”, he said. “If someone affords to live in the UAE, he would definitely afford to pay for a ticket here”, he concluded.
The event went on in a very active mood. The arena was full with enthusiasts, some have come from as far as Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar. Performers Sarmen Panossian and Shake Baghdassarian, with Seto Baghdassarian and his band (all especially invited from Lebanon) raised the spirit of the participants. Multi-language repertoire was performed, satisfying the tastes of all people gathered in the Grand Rashidiya Hall in Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, one of the most prestigious hotels in Dubai and a venue for local and international happenings.  
A remarkable achievement was the publication of a sizable booklet by the Council of the Armenian Community, where photos of previous events were displayed, beside a list of popular Armenian songs and another list of most known Armenian culinary delights. The idea of using the booklet as a channel for distributing information on Armenian cultural and heritage is highly appreciated. There were also pages on other topics such as the history of the Armenians in the United Arab Emirates, the Armenian alphabet, announcement about the newly published Armenian Directory in the Northern Emirates etc. The booklet was adorned with photos taken from natural scenery and cultural monuments of Armenia. The rest of the pages were of course dedicated to the advertisers, who were the back-bone of the fundraising drive. This year the score was more than 70 advertisers, each undertaking to pay more than two thousands dollars. Twenty two gifts were also distributed for the special draw. Most of the winners returned their gifts back to the organizers (as a donation to the Community), showing high spirit of devotion.
From business viewpoint the event could be considered as a highly successful one, although it would have been more successful if attention and respect were paid to the Armenian language and history.
The whole welcome speech had (to the surprise of the majority of the foreigners) only a single Armenian sentence.
This year the Armenian Ball's day coincided with the Vartanants Celebrations in Armenia and worldwide. Saint Vartan and his martyr companions fought for our faith and identity. It is strange (and shame) that not even one word was mentioned in this respect.
One last comment: the newly appointed Principal of the Armenian weekly school in Sharjah should have been seated on the table of the dignitaries. The same applies to other national and religious figures. Not following these simple protocol procedures implies disrespect to our institutions.
In its announcement about the forthcoming Armenian Annual Ball, the National Council mentions that “the ball is a unique event, whose revenues secure the proper running of the community’s activities”. So, let us wish good management for the accumulated funds. This may somehow alleviate the feeling of bitterness we are experiencing as witnesses to the above mentioned obscurities.
P.S. With 2% of the money that has been gathered tonight we can add complete Armenian version to Azad-Hye.  


Annual dancing balls raise some important issues:
Is transferring the “Armenian Annual Ball” to a marketable brand, adjusted to the present-day needs of a cosmopolitan Dubai something that we must feel proud of?
Are such events consistent with our national or community goals or are they a “must” for strictly fundraising purposes?
Is there any room for developing the Armenian Ball concept and making it enjoyable for people with modest budgets and less multi-national aspirations?
It has become customary to say that these events are the major income sources for the Community. It is time to have a close look at this concept.
Why are we so much financially dependent on these parties?
The pressure is so big that at the end the atmosphere gets tense and exhausting. This is true for both the organizers and participants, let aside such parties do not provide any particular Armenian cultural or traditional values.
Furthermore, economically weak families are not able to attend them.
Let us discuss the pros and cons of Annual dancing balls and see how we can improve them.
Place your view about the Armenian Annual Ball at the end of this article or write down your thoughts in the forum section:  
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Posted on Saturday, February 09, 2008 (7271 reads), comments: 0
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