Guests during the photo exhibition of the Khojaly genocide. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: The Consulate of Azerbaijan in Dubai held a meeting of its nationals in the UAE on Sunday to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Khojaly massacre.

Speaking to Gulf News, Ayan Aliyeva, the vice-consul of Azerbaijan consulate, said: “During this genocide committed on the night of February 25, 1992, 613 citizens of the village of Khojaly in Nagorno Karabakh were slaughtered. Those killed included 106 women, 63 children, 70 elderly and hundreds of civilians and 1,275 people were severely injured. We launched the ‘justice for Khojaly’ movement in May 2008. The campaign aims to raise international awareness of the Khojaly genocide, its root causes and consequences.”

She said the genocide is recognised and commemorated by parliamentary acts adopted in numerous countries. “So far, the legislative bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Romania, Czech Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Jordan, Pakistan, Panama. Peru, Sudan, Djibouti, Guatemala, Scotland as well as 20 states of the United States of America have adopted relevant parliamentary resolutions.”

Referring to the Azerbaijan community in the UAE, she said, “We are a vibrant community and love the culture of UAE and blend well here.”

The Republic of Azerbaijan, a country of nine million people with 85 per cent Muslim population, is known for its picturesque beauty and rich history. The country has a visa-on arrival arrangement for all UAE residents and Baku, its national capital, is only a three-hour flight from the UAE.

The word Azerbaijan literally means the ‘land of fire’ and the country in ancient times was known for fire worshippers. Even today, one of the most popular tourist sites in Azerbaijan is the Yanar Dag where a large fire has been blazing for over 65 years.

The Azerbaijan community has been steadily growing in the UAE with strong bilateral economic ties with the UAE. After 1992, many expatriates from Azerbaijan flew into the UAE for trade and business. However, it has been only in the last five years that their number has doubled from 3,500 to the current 7,000. On January 15, 2019, the country opened a trade house in Dubai.

Most Azerbaijan expatriates are engaged in business, and services such as oil and gas and media and communications sector. They are concentrated in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said Aliyeva.