x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

University talks cover a diverse range of topics

A reader mourns the passing of Lebanese superstar Wadih El Safi. Other topics: university talks, Eid holiday activities and a not-so-charming snake act.

A reader mourns the passing of Lebaneses superstar Wadih El Safi  Louai Beshara /AFP
A reader mourns the passing of Lebaneses superstar Wadih El Safi Louai Beshara /AFP

I am writing in response to the letter from Will Riggs about last Thursday’s talk at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus (Ibn Battuta lecture lacked content, October 13).

For several years I’ve attended NYU’s public lecture series, including the talk by Tim Mackintosh-Smith.

While I agree with Mr Riggs that Mr Mackintosh-Smith’s style was rambling and that his delivery was a tad unusual, I nevertheless enjoyed his presentation.

His opening quote about whales in the Indian Ocean – which he later linked to some contemporary scientific data – was, for me, worth the price of admission alone.

Mr Mackintosh-Smith did come across as a somewhat eccentric scholar. That was just fine with me, though perhaps not so for Mr Riggs.

I disagree with Mr Riggs’ suggestion that NYUAD impose stricter limits on their speakers, forcing “demanding original and challenging performances”.

The people who speak at these things are so various, from such diverse disciplines that I can’t imagine how they could do this.

Some speakers are shyer than others, as not every specialist in his or her field is an excellent public speaker.

I would rather have the opportunity to hear these interesting individuals, even if their talks aren’t as polished and scintillating as could be, than completely miss out on their presence in Abu Dhabi.

I find it a privilege to attend this series and I think NYUAD is doing a great job. I only wish more organisations would follow suit.

Elizabete Baums, Abu Dhabi

Beautiful Quito is spoiled by graffiti

I refer to Sarah Gilbert’s travel article, Quito is an Ecuadorean destination in its own right (October 3).

Unesco should strip this beautiful city from its listing as a World Heritage site until the authorities stop the incredible and horrible graffiti invasion that is happening there.

A Spanish mobile phone company even has commercials on local television portraying these graffiti “artists” as folk heroes.

How can you write about Quito without mentioning this awful graffiti?

Seran, Ecuador

Where to take the children over Eid?

Eid mubarak to everyone. But what to do during the holidays?

On my daughter’s suggestion, we made last-minute plans to go the Dolphinarium in Dubai, where she saw the magical mermaid show.

Could readers suggest anything else we could do during Eid that’s great for kids?

GE, Dubai

Snake act wasn’t very charming

My reaction to Arab’s Got Talent: Live-snake eater feels bite of critics (October 12) is pure disgust.

I don’t get how this was allowed to be screened on television.

It was not funny, and the contestant had no talent. It was a case of pure cruelty.

C Al Arnab, Dubai

Singer’s death a loss to the world

I refer to The day the music died (October 14), about the death of “the voice of Lebanon”, Wadih El Safi.

One of the greatest has gone.

Antonio Martinez Niembro, Abu Dhabi

All faiths should embrace peace

One of the most important questions of our time is: What went wrong in the relationship between Muslims and the West?

The solution requires finding common ground upon which to build mutual respect and understanding.

Let us boldly challenge members of all the world’s civilisations to stop demonising others while identifying themselves with pure goodness, and to turn instead to a deeper understanding of our shared values to solve the acute problems facing humanity today.

Whether we are Muslims, Jews, Christians or even secularists, whether we live in the Islamic world or in the West, we are all in need of meaning in our lives, of ethical norms to guide our actions, of a vision that would allow us to live at peace with each other and with the rest of God’s creations.

Let us be bold to dream and embrace a time when people of all traditions live together in peace, justice and prosperity.

Samaoen Osman, South Africa