Parviz Ismailzada, Consul-General, speaks at the 25th anniversary of Black January at the Azerbaijan Consulate. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The Azerbaijan community in the UAE has doubled in size in recent years, with UAE as their preferred destination in the GCC for a number of reasons including its warm weather and business atmosphere, a top diplomat said.

“In 2010 when I left, the community was just 3,500. Within the span of [four] years, we have become 7,000,” Consul-General Parviz Ismailzada told Gulf News on the sidelines of the community’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Black January at the consulate on Sunday evening.

Black January points to the events that happened on the eve of January 20, 1990 when Soviet military forces stormed the Azerbaijan capital of Baku and killed hundreds of civilians calling for independence from what then was the Soviet Union. The tragedy is commemorated every year throughout the country to remember the fallen sons and daughters of their country.

During the ceremony at the consulate on Sunday, a 20-minute documentary on the tragic January 20 events was shown, bringing tears to the eyes of some members of the community.

The UAE recognised the independence of the Azerbaijan Republic on December 26, 1991 and diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on September 01, 1992.

Ismailzada said Azerbaijanis started flying into the UAE by the end of 1992 and has steadily grown since, leading to the opening of their embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2001 and their consulate-general in Dubai 11 years later.

“This can be because first, we have direct flights from here. Every day there is one flight via the Azerbaijan Airlines and FlyDubai flies four times per week. And it’s not far, it’s just a two-hour flight if it’s a direct flight. Second, there’s a great atmosphere for business here.”

Currently, majority of the 7,000 Azerbaijanis in the UAE are based in Dubai working in various fields such as international banking, oil and gas, and trade and commerce.

Latest figures the consulate released showed that trade between the UAE and Azerbaijan in the first nine months of 2012 was $300 million (Dh1.1 billion), with a 24 per cent increase in comparison to the same period the year before.

Besides business, the UAE’s weather also has a charm on Azerbaijanis, he said.

“Third, it’s very hot here. In summertime now, we have snow, for example. It’s very cold. So our people come here. Our hot weather is only from May to September and after that we brave wind, rain, and snow [the rest of the year],” Ismailzada said.