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06 09 16 - Middle East Armenian Newsletter - 16 Sept 2006
Dear Azad-Hye subscriber
Our aim is to introduce the activities of the Armenians in the Middle East, where some half a million of our compatriots live.

Although our focus is the Middle East, but we have a wider perspective and try to cover some pan- Armenian subjects.

During the last two months we visited Jordan and Egypt and prepared extensive coverage of these communities (some of the articles, interviews and comments will appear in future editions). Contribution and assistance from Armenians living in these communities would be highly appreciated.

Please coordinate with us by writing to our e-mail address.

As we noted earlier, Armenians in the Middle East live in one geographical area, but they hardly communicate with each other. We need to feel reunited not only in times of crisis (like the recent war in Lebanon or the ongoing hardships of Iraqi Armenians who are effected by the daily hostilities in that country).

We would like to repeat that being an Armenian cannot be fulfilled without extending assistance and aid to fellow Armenians.


Syria's Grand Mufti Dr. Hassoun visits Armenia

For the first time a high ranking Islamic Sunni spiritual leader visits Armenia

Grand Mufti of the Republic of Syria Dr. Ahmad Badruddin Hassoun arrived in Armenia on 2 September 2006, at the invitation of the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, to discuss issues of religious cooperation and dialogue.

During his visit, Mufti Hassoun held meetings at the Parliament, Foreign Ministry, Academy of Sciences as well as at the Faculty of Theology of Yerevan State University.

In a news wire by Syrian News Agency's (SANA), journalist Ahmed Zahra reported that Mufti Hassoun stressed that Syria is a country from which Christianity spread to the world. During a banquet given in his honor by the Armenian Catholicos he said that Syria was also the country to which the Armenian people immigrated in the past and found amity and hospitality.

Read the rest of the article ...

Teacher's Day at the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (ACPA) in Kolkata

On 5 September 2006 "Teacher's Day" was celebrated at the auditorium of the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (ACPA). The students and staff of the College had prepared a cultural program for the occasion.

Mr. Jams Dias, the Principal of the ACPA wholeheartedly congratulated all the teachers and emphasized the importance of teacher's role in the society.

His message to the teachers was with their work and behaviour to set a good example for the students.

The students presented a number of modern dances and recited poetry. Accompanied by Sean Manoog, a teacher at the ACPA, student Emin Shahijanian sang a duet.

The moderator of the function was student Ani Karapetyan, who at the end of the cultural programme invited Father Oshagan Gulgulian, the Director of the ACPA to address the audience.

Read the complete report followed by another report dedicated to the memory of Mother Tereza...

They lost their last hope for freedom

Thousands of Iraqi Armenians are looking for shelter in different corners of the world. The war has deprived their last hope for security and freedom.

Petros Aghababian, head of the Republic of Armenia migration department dealing with the issues of the refugees, says that his department has no estimation about the total number of the Iraqi Armenians who have settled in Armenia recently, although this number, he admits, has increased in recent years.

Aghababyan maintains that the state doesn't help the refugees with housing, labor and other issues; it only gives them a legal permission to live in the republic for one year. Some of the refugees stay with their relatives and acquaintances whereas others live in rented houses.

Sevan Ohannesian, who formerly lived in Iraq, says that they led a normal life in Iraq before the war. He had his own business, owned a photo shop. He was the only one of his family who could settle in Armenia; the other members are still in Iraq as they have certain problems connected with their passports.

Ohannesian says that he doesn't see any future in Iraq. He is going to find a job in Armenia and finally settle in the country with his family.

Read about what the Iraqi Armenians think about the future of their country...

Castanet dance show in Dubai

Castanet Dance group performed in Dubai as follows:
Date and time: 7 & 8 September 2006, at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Chamber of Commerce Auditorium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Lorenzo Advertising, Entertainment and Production Company with the aim of promoting the art and culture of International dance in the United Arab Emirates presented the magic dancing of CASTANET dance group from Armenia, which performed a unique presentation of international style.

Castanet Dancing School was formed in 1998, as an independent organization under the direction of Ms. Marianna S. Mamyan. With her leadership and the effort of young, talented individuals, this group has been performing successfully for 8 years in International Dance shows.

At present there are around 70 children ranging from 4 – 18 years old attending The Castanet Dance Studio in Yerevan. There are also other branches in other cities of Armenia.

See the rest of the article and a series of photos of the Dancing Group ...

Vatche Yergatian: General Manager of Marriott Hotels & Resorts Jordan

The Iron Man

Vatche Yergatian, General Manager of Marriott Hotels and Resorts Jordan, a man who defines hotelier, shares his expertise and knowledge about the hospitality industry in Jordan.

It was a sunny Friday afternoon when we met Vatche Yergatian, and his family, at his home. The warmth and friendliness was immediately felt as his family lovingly greeted us with a feast prepared by his charming wife in their delightful colorful backyard, accompanied by the sweet sounds of traditional Armenian music. One instantly feels at home, and realizes that - behind this pleasant atmosphere - lies a story that tells of a man who climbed a ladder of great success in Jordan and aboard. "I" magazine talks to Vatche Yergatian, General Manager of Amman Marriott Hotel, about his achievements, goals, and his philosophy concerning the true meaning of 'Hospitality.'

Vatche started his career in the Hospitality Industry in 1974 after graduating from school. Initially, Vatche had plans to continue his BA Degree in Dentistry. However, his pleasure in the "Hospitality, Guest and Customer Interaction" field changed the path of his career. Vatche explains: "I started from scratch; from a Front Office Receptionist to various positions in different departments, seeking opportunities in different companies. Later, I moved abroad and resettled back in Jordan in 1984, where I started working with Marriott Hotel, enabling me to work in different locations, including Poland, Beirut, and Eastern Europe. This was a very challenging experience, mainly because these locations were still underdeveloped in Hospitality standards, and I am glad to have been part of the process; training staff through instilling within them a love of the Industry."

Read about the rest of the article on Vatche Yergatian at ...

Workshop in Aleppo on the occasion of the International Children's Day

Hamazkayin's "Arshile Gorky" art school in Aleppo organized an outstanding art event in the city's Public Park, where children from Arabic and Armenian art schools took part.

Invitations for participation were sent to Aleppo's different Arabic and Armenian art schools for this one- day workshop. This event was part of the activities of "Aleppo: Capital of Islamic Culture 2006", coinciding also with the "International Children's Day". The participant students were 6 to 12 years old.

Students from "Mardiros Sarian" art school, the Arabic charitable association "Al-Ikha'a" (Brotherhood) for children with special needs and another local school accepted the invitation.

The municipality of Aleppo, considering the importance of this event, announced it as part of the celebrations dedicated to "International Children's Day", taking part between 8 to 13 July. Normally this celebration occurs every year in Damascus, but Aleppo's municipality wished to include it this year in the activities of "Aleppo: Capital of Islamic Culture 2006", under the patronage of Riad Na'asan Agha, Minister of Culture.

Read synopsis of the Workshop and see additional photos at ...

Joelle Mardinian, Middle East TV presenter and make-up artist

From the moment Joelle Mardinian appeared on MBC (the leading free-to-air, pan-Arab, news and entertainment channel), she managed to keep the spotlight on her, although her frank comments stirred rounds of debate in the audience.

To make things worse, the nature of her show "Bel Saraha Ahla" (Better with frankness) is based upon how to change the look of the participants and unmasked everything hidden in their characters.

Nevertheless, Joelle succeeded in getting closer to the public. She established herself as an authority in matters of elegance and beauty.

Below are parts of an interview with Joelle Mardinian (originally in Arabic language) published in the no. 153 issue of Dubai’s "Ahlan" weekly (3-9 August 2006):

See covers of magazines with Joelle and the rest of the interview...

Aline Parseghian, veteran member of UAE community passes away

One of the veteran members of our community Aline Parseghian passed away on 15th August 2006. She was living in the United Arab Emirates since 1976.

Last service for her soul was performed in the Saint Krikor Illuminator Armenian Church of Sharjah, on 20th August 2006. The burial ceremony took place in Lebanon.

We extend our sympathies to her beloved ones and relatives.

Read the rest to find out about the aviation hobby of Aline Parseghian...

In this issue

Turkish presence in Lebanon evokes dreadful memories

Syria's Grand Mufti Dr. Hassoun visits Armenia

Teacher's Day at the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (ACPA) in Kolkata

They lost their last hope for freedom

Castanet dance show in Dubai

Vatche Yergatian: General Manager of Marriott Hotels & Resorts Jordan

Workshop in Aleppo on the occasion of the International Children's Day

Joelle Mardinian, Middle East TV presenter and make-up artist

Aline Parseghian, veteran member of UAE community passes away

Turkish presence in Lebanon evokes dreadful memories
The objection of the Armenians of Lebanon to the engagement of the Turkish forces in Lebanon is receiving local and international attention.

An Associated Press (AP) news report (published on 01 September 2006) refers to the aspirations of some Turks, who "remembering the glory of Ottoman times ... may see engagement in the Lebanon peacekeeping force as a chance to reassert Turkish influence in the Middle East and win favor with the West".

Many parties including Europe, the United States and Israel are eager to see Turkish forces in Lebanon as a sort of Islamic contribution to the peacekeeping forces there. On the other hand, Ankara, nostalgic for the glory of the six centuries Ottoman presence in the Middle East is not hiding its ambitions for such a "prestigious" role.

"Turkey has an obligation as a regional power and the old guardian of the Middle East to exert its positive influence on developments," editor in chief of "The New Anatolian" (Turkish publication) said. This self described guardianship can cost a lot to the people of the region, as in the case of Cyprus, which was partly occupied since 1974.

Read more ...


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