News > UAE Armenians > Sharjah-Dubai Armenians express views on community issues
Few weeks ago Sharjah-Dubai Armenians elected their Legislative Council, which will govern the community life for the coming four years. The time is ripe for changes.
In the 1990s members of the Community were involved in a very noble mission: the building of the Church. This great mission was fulfilled in 1998 and a Church complex (named after Saint Gregory the Illuminator) with weekly school facilities turned into reality. Armenians in the UAE had for the first time a place where they could call their "own".
This was followed with the excitement and jubilation of establishing the Embassy of Armenia in the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The Armenian Community in Sharjah-Dubai supported this mission morally and financially. The official ceremony of the opening of the Embassy in Abu Dhabi (September 2000) was an important milestone. Two years later, in April 2002, President Robert Kocharian visited the UAE, while the excitement scored a new height. During this period several Ministers visited the UAE rekindling public attention towards Armenian issues.
The elections for the 3rd legislative period (December 2002) seemed very encouraging with the participation of more than 500 members in the United Arab Emirates. The competitions in both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah-Dubai were fierce and some mishaps were recorded, with the result that some Armenians were displeased and others felt the elections were meaningless. A less troublesome elections took place this year, but with an exceedingly shrinking participation from the public. The re-election of the same personalities to the Legislative posts created mixed feelings.
Azad-Hye had the following interviews with several Armenians residing in Sharjah-Dubai.
Sebouh Manjikian (re-elected member of the Legislative Council)
How do you characterize the coming period?
We are in the beginning of an active period. The number of Armenians in the United Arab Emirates and particularly in Sharjah-Dubai is increasing day by day. The elected representatives should immediately start a four year plan to tackle many pending issues.
What are the priorities in your agenda?
As a priority I can mention the desire to see the Armenian school re-shaped from weekly to daily school. A second priority is to building of a church for the Abu Dhabi Armenians. On administrative level, I think our major concern should be revising the Constitution. We need to make sure that the changes are approved by the Legislative Council in the GCC and at higher levels (Catholicosate).
What else is important in our society?
There are two other main concerns. The first is the media, namely the Shepor magazine. In the past there had been some efforts to revive it, but due to shortage of man power we could not proceed with the idea. Another closely related subject is organizing cultural activities. We should make a real progress in organizing cultural events.
What is the reason that not so many people have come to vote?
The reason for the low number of participants is the general indifference of the public towards the Armenian subjects. We need to change this attitude, otherwise we will face even worse situations.
Kolia Khatchatourian (member of the Electoral Committee)
How do you describe your work in the Electoral Committee?
We worked with discipline and sense of responsibility. We introduced new layout for the election card, voting card, poster and other items. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm was hampered by the limited number of participants. Thousands of Armenians live here, but only 130 came to elect in Sharjah-Dubai. This is really a disheartening outcome.
How do you explain this high number of absenteeism?
Many Armenians do not register in the Church and their whereabouts are unknown or not recorded. They do not receive faxes or e-mails. Therefore they do not know what is going on in the Community. Many citizens of Armenia are not registered in the Embassy, let aside the Church.
What do you think about the Constitution?
There are so many articles in the Constitution that need to be amended or adjusted. There is a huge task there. The officials need to take this into consideration.
Ara Keusseyan (re-elected member of the Legislative Council):
What are your plans for the future?
We need to continue the work we started during the past session. We have to follow the changes taking place in the Community and react in a healthy way.
What is the biggest challenge in front of the officials?
The biggest challenge is obviously the increase of the number of Armenians in the UAE and the need for creating a corresponding set of activities.
Were you satisfied with the work of the previous legislative session?
When someone expresses total satisfaction it means he does not leave room for improvement. I can confirm that the previous Council achieved financial well being of the society. The task is to preserve and use the financial resources in a wise and constructive way.
What do you think about the Constitution?
The Constitution needs attention and serious attempt for modernization. Time has come to go ahead with this task without delay.
Sevag Albarian (ex-member of the Legislative Council)
How do you characterize the Elections?
The Elections were not healthy. The public is very indifferent. The number of candidates was short-listed.
What do you recommend for better elections?
The number of candidates should be large enough to hold meaningful elections. Many of our compatriots are not aware about the duties and obligations of the Legislative Council. The members of the Legislative Council themselves have a lot to do in terms of creating the required awareness, at least for the next elections, when hopefully we will see new faces.
Click here for additional information on the Armenian Community of Sharjah-Dubai.
Report: Elections in the Gulf Armenians Communities
Photo: Members of the Electoral Committee confirm the results of the Elections on 16 February 2007