x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Save the mangroves, and the hammour

A reader wants a ban on development near swamps. Another wants hammour sales halted. Other letter topics: French bankers, Chinese investors, American soldiers, and Kenyan Tweeters.

Natural resources including mangroves justify a ban on nearby development, a reader says. Silvia Razgova/The National
Natural resources including mangroves justify a ban on nearby development, a reader says. Silvia Razgova/The National

We have been reading about the reasons for the disappearance of the mangrove swamps for many years now, and it seems to me the solution is very simple (Rare kingfisher threatened by demise of mangroves, December 11). The UAE needs to forbid urban development in and around environmentally sensitive areas.

We also regularly read that the region suffers from the problem of desertification. But as desertification is the degradation of arable or habitable land (which the UAE didn't have until the last few decades) to desert (which it has always had lots of) I'm not quite sure which area this refers to. Could someone enlighten me?

MRB, Dubai

Ban commercial sale of hammour

Rupert Wright should not be so disingenuous. In his notebook (From the desk of Rupert Wright: The irrational exuberance of dance, December 16) he wrote that he refrained from buying hammour because the shop had a sign saying: "Think again! (Overfished)."

Mr Wright added that he's not sure he fully understands the concept of trying to dissuade people from buying a dead fish.

But he understands perfectly well, as we can see by the fact that he bought lamb chops instead. Reducing demand for a product will eventually reduce the incentive to supply it, and fewer hammour will be taken from the water.

Nonetheless, warning signs aren't very effective. I know I shouldn't eat hammour but it's so good I sometimes order it in restaurants. A strict ban on commercial fishing of this species would help us all control ourselves.

Fred Ledebuhr, Abu Dhabi


China's ventures in Africa beneficial

Is China encountering or exploiting Africa? (December 16). The headline of this article carries a lot of negative connotations.

So am I to understand that when China ventures into Africa, it is exploitation, and when western countries set up business it is labelled liberalisation of the market? For years Africa's resources were looted by western powers propping up dictators and instigating coups and civil wars.

As long as Africans keep on fighting, western powers and their friends could sell weapons and manipulate government to secure various natural resources. China's venture has been unconditional, where as ventures by the West came with prerequisites that guaranteed servitude.

Joe Burns, Abu Dhabi


Shine the light on French banks

Everyone is having a good look at the UK and its standing in Europe, but I think it is time that we had a hard look at the French, their banking system, their employment law and their unions.

French banks have a reputation for having some of the cleverest technical financial engineers in the world. What this actually means is that they are the most astute in hiding fair value.

While the French blame everybody else for the woes in Europe they have been the driving force in European financial inefficiencies. The French have survived in hiding fair values in agriculture, industry and finance while benefiting more than most than by being a senior member of the European Community.

Charles Hamill-Stewart, Dubai


US withdrawal complicates Iraq

If I were an American service member I wouldn't be feeling very proud right now (US defence chief: Iraq war was worth the blood and money, December 16). For one, there are thousands of Iranian refugees now living at a camp in Iraq that Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki insists (against international law) must be closed at the end of December.

He says he will respect their rights, a dubious claim.

Carolyn Beckingham, UK


Tweets in Somalia are a bad omen

The article Islamists trade Twitter insults with Kenya (December 15) suggests that the battle between the Kenyan military and Somalia's insurgent group Al Shebab shows just how helpless the situation is.

Traditional notions of war virtues like honour, valour and bravery have given way to pathetic taunts, accusations and insults online.

Al Shebab is commonly linked to Al Qaeda and designated as a terrorist group by many western governments. Now they are so confident about their strength that they are tweeting?

Humanitarian access to Al Shebab-controlled areas should be provided. Kenya can help, but not by engaging terrorists in chat rooms and in cyberspace.

Ali Sedat Budak, Abu Dhabi