BY SAMI ZAATARI
From Gulf News
ABU DHABI, U.A.E.—The first Armenian church opened in Abu Dhabi on Friday with hundreds of Armenian in attendance.
Previously, Armenians in Abu Dhabi would worship in other churches such as St. Andrews Church, or go to Sharjah which has an Armenian church.
Speaking to Gulf News about the opening, Father Mesrob, the church priest, said the community was very thankful to the UAE leadership.
“Shaikh Zayed gave us land to build our churches and Shaikh Khalifa has continued to help us. We are very grateful to the Abu Dhabi Government for the freedom to conduct our church services. Such actions will encourage stronger relations between the UAE and [the] Armenian community.”
Pakrad Balabanian, an Armenian who attended the church opening, told Gulf News that “we have up to 1,000 Armenians living in Abu Dhabi so we needed a church to hold our gatherings. We have quite a few buildings on the site, one of which will be used as [a] Sunday school for the children. We will be able to hold other ceremonies here as well. Previously, we had to rent different churches for our ceremonies. We want to thank the government for the land and its generosity.”
Another Armenian resident, who did not want to be named, said that the church will keep the Armenian community in Abu Dhabi together.
“We also have a school here for Armenian children for them to come weekly, with 5 to 6 teachers. There is also a building for the priests so whoever is in need of help can come and talk to a priest. Armenian Christians can also get married here instead of travelling to other countries such as Lebanon, Syria, or Iran.”
He added that Muslims are welcome to visit and see the church. “They can come inside and see pictures and photographs. They are more than free to come and take a look.”