SHARJAH–United Arab Emirates (Gulf News)–The St. Gregory the illuminator Church the first Armenian church in the UAE–was officially consecrated in the Al Yarmook district of Sharjah Sunday by His Holiness Aram I Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia.
"The first Armenian church in the UAE has been constructed on land donated by Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi–Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah," said Nishan Basmajian– Secretary of the Council of Armenian Community in the Northern Emirates.
He added that the Council of Armenian Community in the Northern Emirates received permission from Dr Sheikh Sultan for building the church about 18 months ago. "However–the project began only a year ago and was completed recently"–he said.
Basmajian said that the built-up area of the church was 400 square meters–while the project covered a total area of 1200 square meters.
Located opposite St. Michael’s Church behind the Labor Office in the Al Yarmouk district–the new church is large enough to serve the 3000-strong Armenian community in the Northern Emirates.
"There are around 4000 Armenia’s living in the country–most of them staying in Dubai–Sharjah and the other northern Emirates," said Basmajian.
He said the one million dollar project was financed by members of the Armenian community in the country.
"This dream has come true because of the support of all members of our community who offered donations and supported the project," he said.
The consecration ceremony was attended by Sebouh Sarkissian–the Armenian archbishop of Kuwait and the Gulf region–archbishops of New York–Iran and Greece–Shahe Barsoumian–the Lebanese Minister of Oil–and members of the Armenian community in the country.
The Catholicos arrived from Antelias to the capital Abu Dhabi last Wednesday heading a delegation which included Archbishop Gorun Babian–Bishop Sebouh Sarkissian–Ara Yervanian–Shahe Barsoumian–Voskeperan Arzoumanian.
Appointmen’s to visit the President of the Country Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed al Qasimi–Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah–have been prearranged by George Siam–ambassador of Lebanon in UAE and Hasan Saad,Consul General of Lebanon in Dubai.
Two years ago–on the request of His Holiness Karekin II –Catholicos of Cilicia (now Catholicos of All Armenia’s)–a plot of land was granted to the Armenian Community of the Northern Emirates to build their Church in Sharjah.
The land and the permission to build the first Armenian Church in UAE was graciously given by Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.
As an expression of gratitude to the hospitality and generosity of the Government and the People of the United Arab Emirates–the Council of the Armenian Community in the Northern Emirates with the collaboration of its Cultural Committee has organized an Armenian Week which began last week and is expected to run through Thursday.
Armenian week festivities included song and dance performances–an art exhibition–as well as lectures and presentations on Armenian culture–literature and music.