x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Nothing comic about Italian tragedy

A cartoon in The National depicting Europe's economy as a sinking ocean-liner missed its mark, especially as Italy mourns its dead, one letter writer argues. Other topics today: solar in Dubai, property values in the UAE and improving cyber security.

The cruise ship Costa Serena passes offshore as its sister ship Costa Concordia lies on its side off the Tuscan island of Giglio. The Italian Ambassador says that a cartoon depiction of the accident was in poor taste. Angela Carconi / AP
The cruise ship Costa Serena passes offshore as its sister ship Costa Concordia lies on its side off the Tuscan island of Giglio. The Italian Ambassador says that a cartoon depiction of the accident was in poor taste. Angela Carconi / AP

My jaw dropped with disbelief on seeing the cartoon published in the Comment section on January 17, depicting vessels sinking off the shores of Italy.

This accident, in which the Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia was involved, ended in tragedy, and many passengers and crew lost their lives or are still missing. Families in a number of countries are mourning or still praying for their loved ones while an impressive effort is underway by rescuers.

I cannot deny that I found the cartoon by Shadi Ghanim deeply distasteful, offensive and tactless.

In such a circumstance, in which human feelings are at stake and a whole nation is rallying round the victims' families to help overcoming the immensity of their loss, I believe irony can hardly be a justification.

I represent a country that is today the eighth largest economy in the world. It is surely not a sinking vessel.

Giorgio Starace, Ambassador of Italy, Abu Dhabi

Solar plans are Dubai's legacy

These are visionary plans (Dh12bn solar plant for Dubai, January 10).

With more than seven billion citizens on this world, we need to conserve more and emit less in order to leave our planet in a reasonable condition for future generations.

We don't want to be the generation that could have stepped up to the environmental challenges of our time, but chose not to.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will be praised by future generations on account of his highly commendable environmental vision.

John Brian Shannon, Canada


Expat paradise deserves the label

I feel very safe in UAE, more than any other country I have been in (Forbes takes back 'unfriendly UAE' label, dubs country 'expat paradise', January 22).

For instance, I have left my home unlocked multiple times and even left the key in the door for two days. And nothing was lost or stolen.

By comparison, when I was in the United States not long ago, I left my baby stroller at the entrance lobby of my building for my wife while I left to catch the bus. By the time my wife got there, the stroller was gone.

It is not just property that is safe in the UAE, either. This country is also safe for women and children.

The original data that Forbes used did not do the UAE justice.

Mohamed Ismail, Sharjah

Property values are over-priced

I write in reference to your business story, Union Properties executive resigns after Dh3.8bn Emirates NBD deal (January 23).

The major source of the problem is that many properties, not those of Union Properties, were very over-valued and over-priced. This is one of the reasons why they had to write off or scale down the prices resulting in valuation losses.

The absurdity is that the lending banks also agreed to the prices fixed by the developers instead of making assessments of their own.

Builders, developers and bankers will have to keep writing down the value of their properties, in some cases unsold and incomplete building, for the next few years.

There is no escape from the hard reality for realty.

KB Vijayakumar, Dubai


Security first in cyber strategy

The recent alleged cyber attacks against the stock market in the UAE may be an attempt to test the waters (Abu Dhabi stock exchange denies attacks by hackers, January 19). That is why authorities should take this opportunity to establish a cyber-crimes task force, which could be later rolled up under the counterterrorism office to be established in Abu Dhabi.

A white paper written by a former US National Security Agency officer more than 10 years ago explains that the issue of cyber warfare is just as real as wars fought on the physical battle field.

Attacks against financial institutions are seldom reported and so the problem may be far greater than we think. In fact the US Department of Defence is constantly bombarded by denial of service attacks and web defacing.

Cyber-attacks emanating out of the Middle East are even more worrying. The prospect of an extreme case of cyber warfare is there, and includes systematic attacks against infrastructure, telecoms, utilities and financial institutions. The effect could be catastrophic.

It is critical therefore that countries and corporations recognise that cyber-attacks are a real threat and they should implement legislative and security measures to protect against it.

Randall Mohammad, Abu Dhabi