x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Chavez was a man of the people

A reader says the late president of Venezuela served his country well even if he didn't achieve all his aims. Other topics: tuition in English, domain names and debit-card cloning.

A reader says Hugo Chavez didn't achieve all he promised, but served his nation's poor people well. Leslie Mazoch / AP
A reader says Hugo Chavez didn't achieve all he promised, but served his nation's poor people well. Leslie Mazoch / AP

Using English to teach may not serve students

I am writing in reference to the debate about what language should be used for teaching (Call to boost Arabic in universities, March 6).

I have just completed doctoral research into the difficult cultural border crossings faced by young Emiratis transiting to colleges and universities.

A key question emerging from my work echoes this sentiment: whose interests are being served (or not) by compelling first-language Arabic students to study using the dominant and hegemonic second language of English?

The Dutch academic Geert Hofstede, who has researched cultural dimensions, explained that "language is the vehicle of culture" and, as such, learning a new language may transform one's world view by the subtle absorption of cultural messages associated with the target language.

However, I also acknowledge the UAE's open willingness to join the global community via the English language. Young Australian Aboriginal students are now being asked to become "culturally stronger, academically smarter" and I wonder if this approach can resonate here in the UAE.

Besides, there are examples from around the world where bilingualism works at a national level, such as in Canada, where millions of people speak more than one language.

Peter Hatherley-Greene, Dubai

English is the one common language among the 200 or so nationalities in the UAE, and that is probably why most schools teach in English.

However, I think it should be left up to the school to choose which language would most benefit its students and their families.

Sajjad Rizvi, Dubai

Foreign ATMs can clone bank cards

I want to warn people about using debit and credit cards while abroad.

After returning from a holiday in Brazil, I was shocked to find that Dh24,000 had been illegally withdrawn from the joint account my wife and I hold with a UAE bank.

It would appear that, while she was using an ATM in Brazil, my wife's debit card was "cloned" and the password was stolen. By carefully checking the bank statement, I managed to pinpoint the exact location of the illegal withdrawal - and it was some 2,500 kilometres away from where my wife was at the time.

I reported the fraud to my bank, which undertook to investigate. At the time, I was told that the remaining balance of my account had been frozen and it would only become available at the end of the investigation.

However, two days later, all the money was gone. In total, Dh43,000 disappeared from my account.

The bank's finding was that ATM withdrawals can be carried out only through the use of a PIN and a physical card being submitted to the ATM machine. It does not seem to acknowledge that card cloning is a reality.

After six months, I still don't have my money back.

Name withheld by request

Chavez changed Venezuelans' lives

It was sad to read about the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (Champion of the poor who polarised a nation, March 7).

Although Chavez did not transform his country as per expectations regarding infrastructure projects, he changed the lives of many Venezuelans.

His death was a great loss to the people. I hope the country's new leader works for the betterment of Venezuelans.

K Ragavan, India

Weapons stance makes no sense

I can't comprehend the imperialism and arrogance of the US and Israel as demonstrated in Talks with Iran 'cannot go on forever' (March 5).

These countries claim the legitimacy of possessing weapons to defend themselves, but demand that other countries disarm.

Eduardo Correa, Brazil

Domain names move welcome

I am writing in reference to Arab names needed for local sites (March 5), about the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' support for new domain names in this region.

It was informative and helpful for my research into the subject.

Mazhar Ulipe, Dubai

Horror film does its job properly

I have an addition to your synopsis of the horror film Silent Hill: Revelation (March 4).

I suggest that nobody watch this film at night before going to sleep.

L McNabb, Abu Dhabi