I'd like to sound a note of caution on the introduction of the prickly pear (Opuntia stricta).
I read the article Prickly pear cactus on the menu for UAE livestock (December 23) with trepidation. The introduction of any non-native species to a country, even for agricultural purposes, must be done very carefully.
The case of the prickly pear is well known. It was introduced in Australia in the late 1700s and it spread over millions of hectares in New South Wales, choking the landscape by out-competing the local vegetation. It was in the late 1800s that the Australian government introduced legislation to combat its invasion. It took the introduction of a moth species (Cactoblastis cactorum) from Central America to control its growth.
Although the introduction of the prickly pear in the UAE seems like a good idea, as it can be grown easily and is nutritious for camels, as the article states, the risks of its spread must also be considered.
In my view the government has a special responsibility in determining the ecological consequences of such introductions, before proceeding with any plan of mass propagation.
And this must go hand in hand with an awareness campaign to ensure that the species does not spread into the already threatened, unique desert ecosystems in UAE.
Sabir Bin Muzaffar, Assistant Professor of Ecology, UAE University, Al Ain
Winged recovery good for Dubai
I write in reference to your news story, Dubai's recovery on the wing during world economic turbulence (December 23).
Clearly, Dubai and the UAE have returned to the front seat where they belong - as the back seat is not comfortable for those who have ambition and vision.
Bilal Snaineh, Dubai
Salary caps can do more harm
In reference to Don't hire our maids if you can't pay, Philippine ambassador tells UAE (November 13), $400 (Dh1,470) per month sound good but what if it ends up reducing the number of possible employers?
Honestly $250 to $300 a month is still good for many. In the rural provinces of the Philippines a lot of families make less than 1,500 pesos per month, or about $36.
I hope the Philippine government will think twice before pushing the $400 salary and asking Filipinos, especially those who are uneducated, to refuse jobs that pay less. I also hope officials will think of all the poor families who don't have any work at all, and for whom a source of income in other countries, including the UAE, is so critical.
Name withheld by request
Welcome defence of world's women
I am a 34-year-old female lawyer from Fiji who currently works in the Political and Treaties Division of my country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations.
But my most important job is being a mother to my 8 year old daughter.
In reading your article Harassment is Part of Everyday Life in India (December 23), I was deeply saddened and somewhat angry at this attitude shown by men in India.
Indian women should be reassured that they are not in this battle and fight alone. I dream of a world where young girls like my daughter can be free to spread their arms like a butterfly and glide peacefully along the skies.
I dream of a world where our old women can sit in the comfort of the shade of trees and sleep peacefully and safely in the afternoon breeze.
I dream of a world where working women can walk into the vicinity of our offices and be comforted in the knowledge that we are being recognised not for what we are as women but for who we really are as human beings of essence.
Amelia Cobona, Fiji
After reading your article about women in India, this reader is left wondering: how can I help?
Is there any way for women in the United States to help a woman in India?
Jessica Arconti, US
Making promises will not mollify an angry Indian public (Indian PM urges calm as anger over gang-rape case escalates, December 24).
Nothing will change until men stop getting away with this crime and spend some time in jail.
Where's the beef? That depends
Saudi Arabia has banned Brazilian beef from one region due to mad cow disease, but the UAE has said it will not (Saudi Arabia suspends imports of Brazilian beef over mad cow disease, December 19).
Why then did they ban beef from the UK for the same problem?
Name withheld by request