x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Readers write on the importance of Arabic in the UAE

Readers write letters addressing the issues of Somali pirates, traffic pile-ups and vegetable prices in China

Captured Somali pirates are led away by soldiers of the UAE Special Forces. Readers advocate tough measures against piracy. Courtesy of UAE Armed Forces
Captured Somali pirates are led away by soldiers of the UAE Special Forces. Readers advocate tough measures against piracy. Courtesy of UAE Armed Forces

The front page news article Lessons in English endorsed by parents (April 11) reported that 80 per cent of parents in a survey in Abu Dhabi believed that teaching Arab children in English does not undermine their culture. I disagree about what this article is trying to convince us: that teaching our children in English will not affect their identity. Language is the corner stone in one's identity.

There are many developed countries other than the English-speaking nations that study in their original language. Finland, for example, is number one in education world-wide. Also studying in their own language are Germans and Japanese.

I am not against learning other languages. I do support it strongly, in a creative way other than what is happening in the public schools. Why do we have a system of all or nothing: either all in English or not at all? The money used in hiring more English speaking teachers can be used to develop teaching resources and teacher training so we can regain people's trust in public schools again.

Teaching in English will affect our children's identity and their self-esteem if we end by having mutated generations. Parents believing in the importance of the Arabic language will have to hire private tutors for their kids. One day when the "cool" picture of English will fade, we will be left with sorrow that we did not take serious action when we could.

Shamma Lootah, Abu Dhabi

Get tough with Somali pirates

This is in reference to Nato drops anchor in Emirates (April 11) which described the arrival of five Nato minesweepers at Dubai's Jebil Ali port.

The UAE's association and partnership with Nato, driven by shared concerns such as Afghanistan, Iran and the safe transport of oil and gas through the Gulf, must now be used to safeguard passage of ships against increasing attacks by the Somali pirates.

This attention is the need of the hour, as someday these high-wave brigands may even start entering the Suez canal area if nothing large-scale is done to obliterate them.

Amit Bhattacharjie, Dubai

The photograph of the rescued vessel MV Arrilah-I, rescued from pirates by UAE Special Forces, accompanies the story Safe again: ship and crew in Mina Zayed (April 6). The photo shows her port of registry as being Monrovia in Liberia. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the jurisdiction for prevailing laws is of the flag country. The legal case against the pirates will have to survive legal scrutiny over the issue of jurisdiction. In the past, pirates were effectively let off. One of the root causes for piracy is a lack of deterrent on this count. Liberia is classed as a "flag of convenience"; the "convenience" being largely commercial.

With piracy reigning large in this region, ship owners may well reconsider their flagging option so that the heroic accomplishments of the UAE Special Forces be further complemented by prosecuting the pirates under UAE laws committed on ships under the UAE flag.

RKS, Abu Dhabi

Lessons from the last pile-up

In reference to Fog blamed for Abu Dhabi pile-up (April 3), the horrific accident that happened on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway reminded me of the pile-up that happened in October 2008.

At various times between these two periods, the press and authorities have warned road users of the dangers that prevail in this sector during bad weather days. It is a very dangerous situation on this particular stretch from Abu Dhabi to Dubai when visibility is less due to fog or sand storms.

Drivers forget the basics and continue speeding even as they are well aware of the dangers.

On March 26, on my way to Mafraq hospital at 6.00 am, I witnessed three near misses from speeding cars exiting the eastern ring road from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. This scene convinced me that police and transport authorities are helpless even if they introduce progressive measures like LED signage and modern speed cameras.

Congratulations to the Abu Dhabi authorities for constantly monitoring the situation and making changes as necessary to avert road accidents. Those traffic violators who speed ignoring the safety of fellow road users should be given compulsory community service at emergency and trauma units of major hospitals.

Safety is not a one-time activity. It is a 24x7 activity for all to make sure no pileups happen again on our roads.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Vegetarian tips from China

I refer to If you want to check Chinese inequality, just buy a pumpkin (April 8). I've been living in Beijing for two years and the prices for organic vegetables here are usually about two times that of conventional vegetables. That said, veggies here are phenomenally cheap. You can make a hearty vegetarian/vegan meal for five dollars.

Tayler Cox, China