As I watched the New Year 2011 Burj Khalifa fireworks and fountain on the Dubai One channel, I could not help wondering about the challenges the UAE and Dubai faced over the last two years and the unwavering commitment of its leadership to press ahead with progress, regardless of all the naysayers.
A look back on two fruitful years for the UAE
With reference to Sultan Al Qassami's opinion article 2010 shines as a celebration of 'Kulluna Khalifa' (December 31), as I watched the New Year 2011 Burj Khalifa fireworks and fountain on the Dubai One channel, I could not help wondering about the challenges the UAE and Dubai faced over the last two years and the unwavering commitment of its leadership to press ahead with progress, regardless of all the naysayers.
Today the UAE is back on track, with its critics in trouble instead everywhere from the US to those so-called PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) nations where the real social and economic crises keep unfolding.
The UAE throughout has been a generous host to millions of expatriates, thus building a global social compact that in practice is unrivaled. It has achieved tremendous growth and cohesion as a nation, and looks set to lead growth in the region and put the Gulf on top as the Next Big Thing after the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) emerging markets scenario.
In short the UAE has proven itself to find opportunity in crisis. Looking at its experienced leadership that has seen many challenges over the decades, we should be confident that they would remain visionary trailblazers
Athar Mian, Abu Dhabi
Traffic needs fixing for holiday
I refer to the news article Dubai revellers stranded downtown (January 2). In the lead up to the New Year's fireworks, I was reading all sorts of stories in the local UAE press about these fireworks being world-class, and in the same league as those of Sydney, London and other major cities. As a Sydney-sider, I can definitely say the Burj Khalifa fireworks paled in comparison but were nevertheless good.
However, if Dubai wants to rank itself amongst these other great cities, it needs to significantly improve public infrastructure to such events. It is such a major safety hazard to have so many thousands of people and cars crammed into such a small area.
What a shame that so many people had their New Year plans ruined in Dubai because of the traffic problems caused by so many trying to attend the fireworks display at the Burj Khalifa. Businesses must have lost thousands of dirhams on the night due to frustrated customers not being able to get to their destinations.
Steve Johnston, Dubai
Background to Tunisian protests
The Arabic News Digest column Tunisia's crisis requires a strategic plan (December 31) quoted the opinion of the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan that the cause of the street protests in Tunisia is unemployment among the young. This is way off the mark. The issue with the economy is the tip of the iceberg. The causes are political. Tunisia's problems cannot be solved by another strategic (or not) economic plan. The president's extended family by virtue of his second marriage have taken over Tunisia's economic and financial systems and serve as the background to endemic corruption in the administration.
According to the cables from the US embassy, the president is surrounded by a mafia that is robbing the country of its few profitable companies and financial institutions. The situation has become so bad that a new class of Tunisian emigrants has appeared recently, which is of Tunisian investors and capitalists who are fed up with the unhealthy atmosphere and are closing businesses and moving to Europe and elsewhere.
In such a climate of corruption and terror, there is no way Tunisia can resolve its employment problem, because the causes are more serious and more profound than just the economy. A regime change has become overdue.
Assayeda A, Abu Dhabi
No Nostradamus, just guesswork
I read Nostradamus or just a storyteller? (December 26) about the predictions for 2011 by the Lebanese fortuneteller Michel Hayek.
I am sorry but I have no idea why a well-respected newspaper would give him the credibility. I deeply respect the reporter Rym Ghazal for her articles but this one rubbed me the wrong way.
Anyone can predict the future using vague terms and claim to be true but if Mr Hayek really wanted to impress, let him be specific. No statements like "There will be an assassination that will be hailed as the crime of the century." This can mean anyone.
As for the issue of Qatar winning the right to be World Cup host in 2022, it was not really a prediction as a guess with a 50/50 chance of success. Everyone knew that Qatar was bidding and everyone knows that Fifa president Sepp Blatter is for opening new lucrative markets. So-called soothsayers trust that when they give you half the truth, you will fill in the missing gaps and believe them.
I am afraid that this is a telltale sign of the fears that we as humans have of the unknown.
Mishal Kanoo, Dubai