x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Ways forward for Gulf economic progress

Diversification into trade, exports and local technology is what the Gulf needs to create more sustainable jobs.

In reference to the business article IMF: Middle East growth rising, but more jobs needed (October 25), diversification into trade, exports and local technology is what is needed in the Gulf region to create more sustainable jobs, given that it is not China or India with massive cheap labour in manufacturing or services, or the West with a mature industrial and information base. An emphasis on quality education is a must and only technology transfer and niche innovation (eg clean-tech technology, mobile telecoms, bio-engineering) can create managerial employment for the small local population that otherwise enjoys oil resources and a flexible expatriate workforce that can be tailored to many long-term strategies.

With the real estate downturn now being restructured and a new UAE economic vision being created, it is vital to secure growth areas that can enhance local production capacity and quick added-on value out of existing technological bases which can then be marketed by the Gulf's many merchant groups with trade and distribution ties in the region.

Athar Mian, Abu Dhabi


Reaching out to special children


As a teacher, I have been observing the behaviour of school children in Dubai, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi for the last three years,although I have not conducted any scientific study on gifted children in the UAE. In reference to Conference to focus on engaging gifted children (October 26), it is estimated that between 6 to 10 per cent of the school children are highly gifted while 20 to 30 per cent are disadvantaged and the rest are average or moderately gifted.

Among the moderate or average category, girls constitute 60 to 70 per cent. All curricula in the UAE are designed for average children who can be pushed upward with extra coaching so that they can pursue higher education. That is why girls dominate higher education in the UAE. Furthermore, almost all curriculas are uninteresting to male students.

In the education system, both gifted and disadvantaged children are ignored. As a result, they tend to become dropouts. Urgent measures must be taken in identifying both highly gifted and disadvantaged school children in the UAE by using scientific methods. These children are unfit for the present education system and they need special treatment.

In every region, there must be special or elite schools for the highly gifted children with sophisticated curricula and highly talented and qualified teachers so as to bring out tomorrow's scientists, technocrats, managers, policy makers and even Nobel laureates.

The highly disadvantaged children also need a special curriculum and teachers so that they can be given special vocational skills. It is essential to conduct a scientifically designed national research project covering all school children so as to ascertain the complexity of the problem. Then only will it be possible to formulate alternative policies for improving the education system, other than simply copying the American or British models. Here lies the crux of the problem of education in the UAE.

Dr Raju M Mathew, Al Ain


A sports agent is not a friend


I refer to the sports article Rooney's agent and how he treated me (October 25) by the former Manchester United striker Andrew Cole. Let me reiterate Mr Cole's own words about his agent Paul Stretford:

"I moved to Manchester and stayed at Stretford's house as he made me part of the family. My agent was influential in every area of my life. He invited me to family functions and controlled what I said to the media.

"He told journalists that they couldn't ask certain things and lined up commercial deals."

He kept Mr Cole away from the headaches of press controversies (quotes out of context and gossip). He got deals which he may have negotiated for days so Mr Cole and himself could make money

That ex-vacuum cleaner seller worked hard to get Mr Cole great transfer money. Was he a great agent? Yes, he was exceptional. Was he a great friend? He wasn't there to make friends. Would I select him as an agent? Surely, yes. He has done his job and if Mr Cole expected more from him, then it's his fault for becoming emotional.

Sam Mathews, Abu Dhabi


More information on British bikes


I refer to the letter The American bike was really British (October 26) which pointed out that Marlon Brando rode a Triumph in The Wild One, not a Harley-Davidson.

Reputedly,  Triumph's importers to the US at the time, Johnson Motors, objected to the prominent use of Triumph motorcycles in the film. Triumph uses the imagery from The Wild One in its marketing material to this day. Che Guevara rode a Norton motorcycle - and Nortons are back from the dead - so you can buy a new one of those also.

Jon Smith, Abu Dhabi