24th Annual Turkish Festival in Houston, Tx

The 24th annual Houston Turkish Festival took place at the Jones Plaza on Saturday and Sunday November 14th and 15th, 2015.

Azerbaijan Center and HBSCA took part in the Turkish Festival.  This year’s Festival differed from previous ones.  This year various countries of the world took part in the Festival activities including arrangement of information booths, folk fashion shows, musical performances.  Visitors of Azerbaijan booth got acquainted with the traditional food, cultural peculiarities, national art and history of the country.  By tradition a ceramics artist Saida Hagverdi had a workshop where she demonstrated the sculpturing technique to the visitors of her booth.  Azerbaijan National Dress fashion show  has been presented by Mehriban, Kamran and Baby Orhan. Musical Band “Autesh” performed beautiful songs of  Azerbaijani composers, solo by Kamiyar.

Overall there was a wonderful and friendly environment at the Festival uniting different nations who live in Houston. Everyone enjoyed Delicious Turkish Foods and Pastries; took a sip of Turkish coffee and had their coffee cup fortune read; learned about and took part in Traditional Turkish Arts & Crafts and oriental dances performed by the world famous Turkish folk band, TUANA; dedicated children’s activity area with fun filled activities from balloon clowns, face painting to a magic show and storytelling; listen to live Turkish music performances; enjoyed a traditional attire fashion show and perused the Grand Bazaar offering modern and traditional arts and crafts from various lands.

The Kids venue had a dedicated children’s corner that will be filled will fun activities.

Cultural events included lectures on a wide variety of topics from history of Sufism and Rumi to Christian sites of Turkey, from ecological and biological treasures of Turkey to its economic role in the Eurasia region, and concerts of various artists, cultural exhibitions as well a very colorful Grand Bazaar

Great thanks going to the volunteers who helped to promote Azerbaijan culture at the Festival and provided support during the Festival.

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Meeting at the Austin Capitol

On November 11th , 2015 new appointed Governor of Texas Greg Abbott met with the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the US Elin Suleymanov, Councelor of the Azerbaijan Embassy Mammad Talibov,  and CEO of Houston Azerbaijan Center Irada Akhoundova in the Texas State Capitol. 

The Ambassador gave an overview of the main points of the effective cooperation between the US and Azerbaijan in such areas as energy supplies, fighting against terrorism and others. Elin Suleymanov noted a significant role of Azerbaijan Center and its Director Irada Akhoundova in successful organization of the important events such as an international conference “The Southern Gas Corridor in European Energy” and a celebration of Azerbaijan National holiday – Flag Day. Irada Akhoundova provided an insight about mission and purpose of the Azerbaijan Center in Houston. Governor Abbott extended his appreciation for the contributions of Azerbaijan Community in Texas and suggested that the relationship between Texas and Azerbaijan should be expanded.

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The Southern Gas Corridor Conference at the University of Houston, TX

2015 Conference “Southern Gas Corridor”

First Oil and Gas Conference about Southern Gas Corridor Projects organized with the help of Azerbaijan Center and sponsored by State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic has attracted a lot of attention of the public of City of Houston.

District Council Rep Edward Gonzalez opened the Conference with a proclamation by City of Houston and pointed out the importance of such a conference with regards to international relations between the US and Azerbaijan.

Bilateral in her welcome remarks the Chancellor of the University of Houston System Renu Khator drew the attention to the importance of a dialogue and interaction on the international level.

Irada Akhoundova, CEO of Azerbaijan Center and a Chair of Conference Organizing Committee, gave an overview of the main goals of the Conference which was building bridges between nations in terms of not only culture but also business. At the same time the Conference was a good opportunity for Azerbaijan State Oil Company SOCAR to shed some light on the Southern Corridor Projects.

The first session was devoted to topics relating to strategic importance of the Caspian region; Ambassador J.  Maresca has specifically reviewed the risk factors and main competitors in oil and gas supply to Europe;


Dr. Economides presented a more specific view on oil and gas supply in connection with the geopolitical context,  providing some figures characterizing supply vs. demand, reserves vs. production in different countries around the world.

The second session was held by the speakers from Turkey, Greece and Italy. The speakers Caner Can (Counselor for Energy, Turkey), George Papanikolaou (Consul General, Greece), Elena Sgarbi (Consul General, Italy) outlined the advantages of the Sothern Gas Corridor project to their respective countries, in terms of economic investments, decreased level of unemployment, new perspective of diversification of gas supply to European countries. Congressman Weber have summarized the session giving the US perspective from the SGC Project pointing out the significant role that Azerbaijan is playing on the oil and gas market, becoming a fair competitor to the countries currently supplying the market.


Ambassador of Azerbaijan Republic to the United States gave the keynote speech at Luncheon about strategic importance of Azerbaijan and the necessity to build strong partnership relations between neighboring countries and countries benefiting from the Southern Gas Corridor Project. He expressed a belief that the Project is a way for partners to demonstrate their reliability in business terms. He also pointed out the enthusiasm with which European countries participate in Project Development.


Afternoon session done by Ed Hirs, Oil Finance Expert, started from the general overview of Global Oil and Gas markets, gas prices; major gas trade movements and Europe’s future energy supplies.

Deputy Vice –president of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, has given a broad insight into TANAP, TAP and SPC Projects development as well as Shah Deniz capacity to feed the demand. Among the things to be focused on, he named keeping flow of crude oil production stable; increasing production and exports of natural gas; contribute to Azerbaijan economic development, link Azerbaijan in trade and infrastructure with other countries. He also drew the attention of the audience to the fact that Azerbaijan projects are profitable for the investors; Azerbaijan parliament has adopted 3 PSAs as a part of national legislation to encourage foreign companies to come to Azerbaijan to conduct business.

The Southern Gas Corridor itself has 26 wells, $15bn Offshore facilities, TAP $5bn, TANAP $12bn. About 12500 people employed on the Projects: these are just a few numbers to the point of the importance and seriousness of SGC Projects committed by Azerbaijan and its partners.

Dr. Shaffer from Georgetown University has focused primarily on the new resources development in Azerbaijan, its strategic geographical location, pointing out the work European governments have to do to create proper legislative and economic conditions for natural gas to be supplied there.


The last but not least two speakers – Mr. Mammad (TANAP External Relations Director) and Dr. Niftiyev (Strategy and Policy Coordinator at Caspian Strategy Institute) talked about the outlook of TANAP and TAP Projects and their advantages to the European countries. It was mentioned that those projects have come to life thanks to strong economic and political commitment of Azerbaijan and Turkish leadership.

The SGCConference gathered about 150 participants, including representatives from oil and gas companies,  consulates and legislative authorities; students from the University of Houston and Rice University; 20 notable  speakers of educational and legislative institutions (University of Houston, Georgetown University, Mayor’s Office,  the Senate). More Photos…

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Azerbaijan National Flag Day in Houston November 9, 2015

Azerbaijan National Flag Day in Houston, Texas

After a full day of the Oil and Gas Conference “Southern Gas Corridor” that took place in the University of Houston, all the guests proceeded to Zaza hotel where on November, 9th, 2015, the Azerbaijan Center hosted a reception honoring Azerbaijan National Flag Day. It has become an annual tradition to celebrate Flag Day in Houston, Texas. The event gathered the Houston-Azerbaijani community as well as state and city officials to express respect to this meaningful national holiday of Azerbaijan.

The welcoming remarks as well as the insight in the history of the holiday and its significance to Azerbaijan Nation were done by the President of HBSCA and CEO of Azerbaijan Center Irada Akhoundova followed by the speech of Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the US Elin Suleymanov in which he extended his appreciation of Ms.Akhoundova’s work and pointed out the significance of the role of Azerbaijan Center in Houston in continuous development of the relationship between Azerbaijan and Texas.

Secretary of State of Texas, Carlos Cascos, expressed how delighted he was to be present at such event pointing out that this was the first event to honor the National Flag that he had a pleasure to attend. Secretary Cascos also emphasized his wish to visit the country of Azerbaijan to learn more about its culture and traditions. To conclude, Secretary of State delivered a message from the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, in the form of a congratulatory letter encouraging all Texans to embrace diversity and extended his appreciation for many contributions of the Azerbaijani community to Texas.


Among distinguished guests was a representative from the Department of Trade and International Affairs, office of the Mayor of City of Houston – Nike Luqman, Consular Affairs and International Partnerships Manager. Ms. Luqman presented a Proclamation issued by the Mayor of Houston honoring Azerbaijan National Flag Day.

State Representative Alma A. Allen took the stage to congratulate Azerbaijani people for Flag Day and thanked the Azerbaijan Center in the person of its CEO, Irada Akhoundova, for the contribution and outstanding dedication for her support to Houston community. More Pictures… 

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