Global tales of Armenians

14_nt_language_armenia_41.jpgBy Abbas Al Lawati, Staff Reporter/
Out of the eleven million Armenians in the world, only three million live in the Republic of Armenia. The rest constitute a multicultural diaspora in all corners of the world.

Despite having assimilated well into most of their adopted countries as a result of migration and displacement, the Armenian diaspora has remained distinct in maintaining its identity while celebrating its diversity.

The UAE is one of the few places where Armenians from around the world meet. There is said to have been an Armenian presence in the country since the 1960s.

One of the earliest civilisations

As people who ruled kingdoms and occupied a land many times the size of their current independent Republic of Armenia, the Armenians are believed to have formed one of the earliest civilisations.

But the strategic location of Armenia between two continents subjected it to intervention and invasion by many people, including the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, Persians, Turks and Russians, effects of which can be felt in the people’s language, food and traditions.

Although Armenia has faced emigration throughout its history – it has a diaspora that is more than three times its population – a major wave of emigration started after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, which saw almost a quarter of its population leave to look for a better life elsewhere.

But there are some indications that the situation is improving. The country is promoting itself as a tourist destination and trying to lure back the vast diaspora to its ancestral homeland. An increasing number of wealthy Armenians from around the world invest in and travel to Armenia.

The Armenian diaspora maintains its coherence through the church, political groupings, charitable organisations and a network of newspapers published in Armenian and other languages.

A major unifying factor for Armenians in Arab countries and their counterparts in the West is the mass killing of Armenians during the First World War.

Although Armenians have launched major campaigns to have the killings internationally recognised as genocide, Turkey fiercely opposes this, saying they were casualties of war.

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