Hundreds of Armenian expatriates attended the opening of a new cultural centre in Musaffah on Friday, situated by the first Armenian Church in the capital, Gulf News reports.
The centre, which will serve as a cultural hub for Armenian expats in Abu Dhabi, was inaugurated by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and His Holiness Aram I, patriarch of the Armenian diaspora.
Addressing the congregation, Shaikh Nahyan hoped the place of worship would serve as an important centre for enriching life, interaction and communication and help in taking care of the affairs of the Armenian community in Abu Dhabi and the UAE at large.
“This building underscores that the UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has always been and continues to be a country whose people embrace Islam, the religion that preaches tolerance and respect for other faiths, values which constitute the basic pillars of our country and created the fertile ground where all people live in co-existence, peace and security,” Shaikh Nahyan said.
“The church is a spiritual symbol for the power of belonging and loyalty of the members of the Armenian community and for deepening social and religious interaction,” he added.
Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia, which is based in Antelias, Lebanon, appreciated the efforts being made by Shaikh Khalifa for promoting tolerance between different religions and nationalities living in the UAE.
According to Hair Mesrob Sarkissian, Head of the Armenian Church in the UAE and Qatar, the Armenian community in the UAE is 10,000 strong, with more than 2,000 populating the capital. “The community centre stands next to the first Armenian church in the capital, which was officially inaugurated in December, 2014. The centre will serve as a hub for the Armenian community in Abu Dhabi.”
Hair Mesrob said the inauguration of the church and community centre would not have happened if not for the liberality of the country’s leaders. “We are grateful to the UAE government, who has been continuously promoting religious tolerance and inter-cultural communication.