x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The vital role of an independent intellectual

In reference to Sultan Al Qassemi's opinion article An independent intellectual sphere is vital to the Gulf (September 12), I would say that the New York-based public intellectual Edward Said was both an asset and a threat, though more of an asset.

In reference to Sultan Al Qassemi's opinion article An independent intellectual sphere is vital to the Gulf (September 12), I would say that the New York-based public intellectual Edward Said was both an asset and a threat, though more of an asset. We should not be afraid to express our opinions. The power of having an intellect is being able to use one's own mind free of the dictates of any governing state or external authority, in harmony with logic, reason and wisdom.

A good intellectual will help people think with logic about important social issues of the day, deepen our general understanding of current debates and - in the role of an educator - lead students into uncharted areas of human consciousness.

A people's intellectual should have a solid set of humane ethics and go by what is right, not merely what is politically correct. If a situation is unjust or a person incorrect in matters that impact on the citizenry, then that situation must be criticised and that person be corrected with sane counsel. We should express what common sense wisdom shows us and use our intellects in the interests of the common people, not for personal gain.

Thus, it can be said that an independent intellectual is vital to the Gulf and important to the world at large.

Peta de Aztlan, US


Great column. Sultan Al Qassemi's point should not be missed. Many leaders in the Gulf (particularly here in the UAE) understand and value the role of open comment and criticism - but we will have to work to spread that commitment to the entire society. For this region, it's a novel approach.

Matt Duffy, Abu Dhabi


Timely crackdown on ghost Emiratis

The front page article 'Ghost Emiratisation' crackdown (December 11) reported that employing Emiratis who don't work will cost companies Dh20,000. This is a long time overdue.

Thanks for highlighting the matter as it is very disappointing to learn that there are actually "ghost" staff just for companies and banks to be rewarded and recognised as achieving 100 per cent Emiratisation. It's about time to be more transparent. In the long run, who will suffer? The country itself.

Mariam al Yanyo, Abu Dhabi


Controversy remains over Fifa

I take issue with Rob Shepherd's flawed analysis of England's failed bid to host the World Cup (England were too arrogant, December 9). If in accordance with Fifa's alleged (though laudable) aim of leaving a legacy, bidders had been obliged to provide additional stadiums, or (as openly preferred by the Fifa president Sepp Blatter) to never before have hosted the competition, then much effort and expense would have been spared by many (if not all) of the losing bidders for both 2018 and 2022.

But so long as Fifa maintains its penchant for highly subjective and secret decision making and shameful deals behind closed doors, then the process will remain fundamentally unfair and at risk of exposure to the darker forces clearly apparent in our game. In my book, the arrogance charge should be nailed firmly to Fifa's door, not that of the English Football Association.

Graham Terry, Abu Dhabi


I really enjoyed the article Sepp Blatter: it's the way he tells them... (December 4). I agree that the way Fifa conducts its mandate in such a secretive way is detrimental to its needed respect from the national Football Association bodies.

However, having lived in the Gulf for over five years, the last two in Doha, I disagree strongly when the article goes off the tracks with regard to the view of Qatar being a good choice.

As to Qatar's ability to host such an event, let me convey my experience at the Brazil-England friendly in Doha. The guards did not even look at our tickets, tear them or stop their own discussion. The seats were occupied by others who had to be moved by police. The VIP section was the largest I have ever seen in a stadium and only 10 VIP people showed up. They did themselves no favours by not participating in the wave. There was no organisation for food service as the one spot available turned ugly as people struggled to get anything and fights broke out. The women who dared attend were greeted by no women's toilets in the entire stadium.

In short, it was very poorly arranged event as witnessed by the the traffic jam afterward.

Let's see how it goes. I, for one, will only watch the games on TV.

KA, Qatar


US should move aside in Israel

I refer to the editorial The US is not the only path for Palestinians (December 12). US peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians have not yielded any results. Now that the EU has come forward, this is good news. But will the Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu accept compromise? Israel continues to dominate the Middle East.

K Ragavan, India