While the GCC customs union is still not the same as the EU's, there is clearly a progressive agenda.
The GCC summit faces common challenges
I refer to Sultan Al Qassemi's opinion article A collection of citizen voices urges the GCC to cooperate (December 5). While the GCC customs union is still not the same as the EU's, there is clearly a progressive agenda. The lack of agreement on a common GCC currency seems to have been to local benefit, given the far-reaching negative consequences of the euro as a common currency.
The GCC faces many challenges collectively as the next big growth region after the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group. These include a rising youth demographic, unemployment, uneven growth, dwindling oil resources and massive expatriate populations, not to mention regional security issues. Yet there is a common Gulf Arab identity that has been forged as a global brand, much as "South Asian" or "South East Asian".
It is encouraging to see Gulf citizens concerned about the environment, women's rights, common transport and, increasingly, a global outlook which, given the already unprecedented expatriate populations, exceeds any other region's contribution to global citizenship and diversity.
Athar Mian, Abu Dhabi
Australia is the place for the World Cup
In reference to the sports article Sepp Blatter: it's the way he tells them ... (December 4), this sums up what, sadly, has become of the beautiful game.
Qatar is a questionable location for a major football tournament. The only thing going for it is its pledge to rehouse the stadiums in developing nations.
If Fifa wanted to break boundaries, it should have plumped for Australia: clean, great fans and grounds, a growing enthusiasm for the sport and proximity to other exciting areas - Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of South East Asia.
Sean Williams, Abu Dhabi
Correction on UAE play therapist
How disappointing to read the article headlined No play therapy for nation's young (December 5), which quoted research from last year stating that there were no trained play therapists in the country. This is, in fact, incorrect and reinforces the view that education in the UAE is Dubai or Abu Dhabi centric and that the other emirates have little on offer.
To correct this false impression, your readers need to be aware that for the previous two years the Ras Al Khaimah English Speaking School (RAKESS) had a fully qualified teacher and PhD in play therapy, Dr Sarah Turner, employed at the school.
She worked to support students with behavioural disorders arising from divorce, physical abuse, depression and other emotional or physical issues. The play therapist worked in collaboration with special education teachers and the educational psychologists to enable these students to maximise educational and social opportunities.
This team was highly successful in working with these students and families with identified problems and received positive feedback from these members of the community.
The play therapy approach was effective for those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Unfortunately, the integrated play therapy and special education programme is no longer functioning.
However, the experience demonstrated the need within the UAE for a specialist trained support team for students with disorders and that there is much to be learned from this experience - even though news of the programme had clearly not reached Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Roy Burrows, former principal, RAKESS,Ras Al Khaimah
New skills for an old system
In reference to Classroom advice from the teenage teacher (December 3), Adora Svitak is a very impressive young woman. Not only has she written a book on education, Ms Svitak is also in the classroom, where I assume she is putting her ideas into practice.
She offered her opinions regarding education in the UAE, in particular as discussed by young teachers at the Dubai Women's College. The young Emirati women "feel they can't change things … the system needs a radical shift".
One student teacher, Amna al Thani, was impressed with Ms Svitak's belief in the power of change and made a comment that 45 minutes a day studying English is not enough.
Change is next to impossible when the status quo is both accepted and reinforced by the education experts and the society within which the education system works.
Faculty member Satya Klever essentially said that Dubai Women's College is graduating teachers without a way of implementing the teaching methods they have been taught.
Isn't teaching people skills and concepts that cannot be implemented immoral?
Tom Pattillo, Ras Al Khaimah