x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Overcoming difficulties in learning Arabic

Readers respond to The National with their views on sport, women's equality, and the right time to make investments.

Players from Gems Wellington International school and Greenfield Community school contend during a Dubai Sports League match. A reader applauds such efforts to improve physical education. Ravindranath K / The National
Players from Gems Wellington International school and Greenfield Community school contend during a Dubai Sports League match. A reader applauds such efforts to improve physical education. Ravindranath K / The National

In reference to Amrita Chachara's opinion article The UAE is home, and you don't speak the language? (March 7), it is very difficult to learn Arabic here because if you attempt to practise by speaking to your Arab friends or co-workers in Arabic, they will reply to you in English. I've even sat at a restaurant and listened to the Emirati couple sitting at the next table speak to each other in English only. I know Emiratis who may speak Arabic, but cannot read and write in their own native language.

I agree that there needs to be much better instruction in all schools in both languages. Primary and secondary teachers teaching English must be fluent themselves and the same with those teaching Arabic. Colleges would be elated to enroll students who are well prepared and bilingual.

Carol Smith, Abu Dhabi

Rights of women are violated

The news article Denied right to marry (March 8) reported that male relatives in Saudi Arabia are refusing women permission to marry in violation of Sharia because they don't want to share family wealth with sons-in-law.

It is ironic but true that women still are fighting and struggling for their basic rights. While the world has progressed and flourished, the sanctity, respect and status of woman is still not upheld.

It's sad but true that this happens in countries where the law and the religion both protect women's rights and emphasise their importance.

Women are denied rights to their inheritance and some go through a tough time as their families impose strict practices to keep the family wealth intact. I hope that this will change.

Zahra Khan, Abu Dhabi

Sport needs more promotion

It is with interest that I read the sports article A league of nations for Dubai's youngsters (March 8) which profiled the new Dubai Sports League in which the boys' football teams from 32 schools compete, along with 16 teams of girls. I was especially pleased to read that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is an advocate of the development of physical education in schools. I am a first grade teacher in a government model school, and from what I have seen, this message has not passed through to our schools.

It is not uncommon to witness physical education lessons where the PE teacher throws one oversized football into a mix of children and just leaves them playing. Giving them a 45-minute game of a 20-a-side football match is just not good enough.

In addition, my school was invited to participate in a free football event at a local establishment as a result of an initiative by the company that owns it and another teacher. The children would have received free T-shirts and medals, and played organised matches against other schools, much like what is happening in Dubai. All the school had to do was turn up. However, my school decided that this wouldn't be possible due to a reluctance of parents to transport their children to the event. Our school is only a 10-minute drive from the venue. Even if the parents were reluctant to get involved, surely schools have a duty to ensure the children don't miss out on such opportunities.

Name Withheld by Request

Time to invest in emerging markets

The business article Roubini takes a break from predicting doom (March 9) reported that the economist Nouriel Roubini, known as "Dr Doom" for his pessimism, now sees the global economy growing on the back of the "new normal" or going back to the old ways of business.

The problem with the "new normal" is that it keeps changing. The current wisdom about capital flight back into developed economies is belied by the rising prices of oil and commodities, and the plain fact of a double dip in housing and discouraging employment and GDP numbers in the US and Europe. China still is going strong and seems to have restrained its own housing bubble. The Middle East turmoil is not necessarily negative for all local markets, except for temporarily depressed sentiment.

The only strong case for developed market investment will be built once western multinationals start spending their multibillion dollar hoardings from TARP and tax-break liquefaction programmes, but they don't see demand and still are cutting costs (not hiring.) So consumer spending is still largely depressed.

Dr Roubini et al, made brilliant predictions, but a repeat performance is just too difficult. We should ignore this new normal projection and instead look at who can spend and build sustainably with oil shock cushions: emerging markets again, which largely escaped the Great Recession and have younger, more productive populations with growing appetites.

This is indeed a wonderful time to buy into emerging market bonds.

Athar Mian, Abu Dhabi