News > Qatari Armenians > Qatari Armenians strengthen community structures
Qatar is one of the leading gas and petroleum producing countries in the world with very high per capita income. Many believe that, considering the huge construction projects under way in the country, Qatar will soon acquire a reputation similar to Dubai.
Known for its exclusive coverage of events in Afghanistan, Iraq and other hot spots in the region, Al Jazeera satellite TV is located in the capital Doha. By adding a full English language service in 2007, Al Jazeera has expanded its base and is now reaching millions of English speaking viewers worldwide.
The recent economic boom in Qatar, combined with ongoing conflicts and economic instability in several countries in the region (not mentioning also the latest election turmoil in Armenia), has resulted in a steady flow of Armenians to Qatar, seeking better living conditions and qualified job opportunities.
The number of Armenians in Qatar has thus doubled in the past few years, raising the need for an organized community life. According to the Prelacy of Kuwait and Arabian Gulf countries, which covers also Qatar, the current figure is 500 persons, but could easily reach to a thousand in the time of few years. The influx is remarkable and there are newcomers on weekly basis. According to the same source, the number of registered Armenians (those who have the right to vote in the formation of community bodies) is 228.
Qatar is living a transitional phase not only on the level of economy and infrastructure, but also in the social context. The society was strikingly conservative 10-15 years ago, but the present day situation is marked with openness and tolerance towards all nationalities and religious denominations, to the point that a month ago the first church was inaugurated in the country (a Catholic one).
Predicting the above-mentioned developments, His Grace Archbishop Dr. Goriun Babian, the Catholicosal Representative of the Diocese of Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf countries, has initiated, through several visits to the community, the process of organizing community life through the establishment of the National Council.
The Council has undertaken the task of creating appropriate committees and bodies similar to other Armenian communities. During major Armenian feasts (such as Christmas and Easter) Holy Mass was celebrated. Commemorative events with national and cultural subjects were marked.
During 2006 some internal administrative disagreements paralyzed the work of the Council. To revive the community life in Qatar, the Prelacy's annual (Legislative) meeting decided in April 2007 to authorize Archbishop Babian to organize elections in Qatar, based on the Prelacy's Constitution.
For this purpose, the outgoing National Council appointed an Election Committee to supervise the course of the Elections and 17 January 2008 was announced as the Election Day.
The event was an unprecedented one in the life of this steadily growing community. Never before has so many Armenians gathered in Qatar. The elections took place immediately after the Holy Mass service. Combining the two (Holy Mass and Elections) gave the opportunity to attract more participants.
Archbishop Babian, accompanied Rev. Aram Deyirmenjian, Parish Priest of UAE Armenian Community, arrived Qatar a day earlier (16 January 2008). The Holy Mass was followed by a requiem service for the soul of the deceased. During his sermon, Archbishop Babian highlighted the necessity for more organized life in Qatar. It is imperative to learn from the shortcomings of the previous period and to develop community life in a way that will involve Armenians from all walks of life and all backgrounds, His Grace underlined, praising in the meantime the work of the previous Council. He asked the members of the community to support the new Council.
The elections took place in a peaceful and tolerant atmosphere. The names of the newly elects were ratified by the Electoral Committee. The new Council immediately started its mission and announced the launching of a new season of community activities, with several long-term plans in mind.
It is a very positive sign that the Weekly Armenian Mesrobian School (named after Saint Mesrob Mashdots, the inventor of the Armenian Alphabet) is functioning now on Kindergarten and elementary levels with about 25 students, using the modern facilities of the Lebanese community school.
Having in mind the big number of young people in the community (who already have a Facebook address) and have organized several desert safaris with their four wheel drive vehicles, the Council is planning to form a Youth Committee in order to further enhance the youth related activities. Another priority is the formation of an Educational Body (a sort of Board of Trustees) for the school, to supervise the educational needs of the students and ensure the proper learning of Armenian language and history.
It is a fact that every week there are newcomers to Qatar from many countries including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Canada, USA and elsewhere, usually experts of different professions. It is the hope of the Prelacy and all members of the community in Qatar to bring together these new comers and encourage them to feel as members of one and same family.
Sources: Prelacy of Kuwait and Arabian Gulf Counties, Azad-Hye, Gulf published media.
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Students at the One-Day Armenian Mesrobian
School in Qatar sing "Hayr mer"
Believers attending the Holy Mass
(17 January 2008), Qatar, Doha
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