In reference to the article Child camel riders at festival 'were all Emirati' (March 5), I am by no means a supporter of child exploitation and I applaud the UAE for banning child jockeys in commercial races. I was not at the Sweihan festival, so I cannot comment on the jockeys. But I don't understand the comment of Catherine Turner of Anti-Slavery International about boys riding camels in general. Don't British children ride horses - in the tradition of the country?
I grew up more or less on horseback in Germany, competing in all kinds of tournaments at the age of 10. Yes, I fell off, I got hurt sometimes, but nobody could have stopped me. It was my passion, and I was extremely proud to be the youngest contestant. So if young Emirati children participate in a traditional camel race, I am sure they have trained, know how to ride a camel, and are keen to win. Go kids, get the trophy, and don't listen to old women who know nothing about you and your country's traditions Eva Deutschland, Dubai
In reference to Holland's ultra-right gains ground (March 6), I am a Dutch woman with Dutch roots. The girl the writer met and quoted in Almere is my youngest daughter. I also live in Almere and I am concerned about what is happening here. I grew up in a country where people were hospitable and open-minded. In the Netherlands the problems with young people (almost always from Morocco) are one of the reasons why a right-wing politician like Geert Wilders could become prominent.
These youngsters misbehave toward elderly people. They steal purses and break into houses to get what they want. They are terrorising many places in the Netherlands and people here have had it with them. But Geert Wilders won't help us with his far-right statements. He would (if he gets the chance, and he won't) change our country into an intolerant place to live. This is not a place where my Dutch fellows and I want to live. I think that respect for other religions and other people has to return to my country. If I visit an Arabic country, I will adjust to the values of that country. All I ask is the same from other people who visit our country or who want to live here. I respect other religions. Please respect mine. We have a nice, little country. You have to learn a lot and work hard to survive here, but it is (was) a safe and freethinking country and I hope it will stay the same. M Willems, The Netherlands
I loved the article about James Baker, The power behind the presidents (March 4). Mr Baker and Ronald Reagan dominated the news in the 1980s when I was a teenager and I recall them as perennial favourites in Newsweek and Time. I didn't know he was still alive and going strong at almost 80 - the wily Texan still has a few gallons of Texas crude left in him apparently. It's pieces like these that define The National. B Shankar, Dubai
In his opinion article An opportunity for Iraqis to rewrite their history (March 4), Alan Philps wrote: "No one could claim that this experiment in Iraqi democracy has been worth the suffering caused by the US invasion." I think that a majority of the Iraqi people, after living under Saddam Hussein for 25 years, would strongly disagree with that statement. Western columnists tend to wring their hands about "the suffering caused by the US invasion", even though most of the Iraqis killed have been killed by other Iraqis or by Muslim fanatics imported from abroad by al Qa'eda. But for some reason, they tend to gloss over the massive suffering that the Iraqis endured during their 25 years under the Baathists. It might not have been telecast on the evening news every night, but that doesn't make it any less real.
At least now the Iraqi people have a real chance to make a better future for themselves and their children. Twenty years from now, I'm betting that 2003 will be seen as a watershed event in the transformation of the entire Middle East for the better. George W Bush will ultimately be vindicated in his decision to take out Saddam just as Ronald Reagan was vindicated in his decision to stand up to the Soviets, even though the learnt liberal elites heaped venomous scorn on him at the time just as they have done with George W Bush. Dan Ramsey, US
I refer to Language barriers trip food workers (March 1). Language is a major barrier at food joints in far-flung areas. I asked for a vegetarian sandwich for my wife and was given one with beef. When confronted, the waiter said: "Look, I have put vegetables also." Better sense prevailed and I just walked out instead of arguing over a Dh6 sandwich.
Ravikiran MA, Abu Dhabi