Istanbul: city of culture

A reader recommends visiitng the historic Turkish city. Other topics: polio eradication, beachwear and driving lessons.

A reader shares her experiences visiting the historic Turkish city of Istanbul. Giovanna Dell’Orto / AP
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Brazil's experience proves worth of vaccines

I am writing in relation to $4bn donation targets eradication of polio (April 26).

Polio was considered eradicated in Brazil in 1994, 19 years after the study of the epidemiology of poliomyelitis began.

Until the 1980s, polio occurred frequently in the country (around 2,300 cases per year).

Since 1980, Brazil has used vaccination campaigns to change this situation.

The number of confirmed cases began to fall very sharply from the beginning of the 1980s, reaching 45 reported cases in 1983.

The mortality rate also dropped significantly, and lethality (number of patients who died of those who had the disease) was around 14 per cent.

The major vaccination campaigns in Brazil are made with the Sabin vaccine, which is part of the routine immunisation schedule for children.

Vaccination works and it's really very simple.

Ghizlan von Geisten, Brazil

Driving force for change of habit

It was good to read Ayesha Al Koori's latest blog post, Driving rehab went like clockwork; orange cones were massacred (April 25).

I'm very glad to hear that she has learnt something from her experience. Perhaps this type of training should be compulsory for all drivers.

Caroline Wareham, Dubai

After her first blog post about driving, I was worried about Ayesha.

Now I am so thankful that she is getting a few lessons. Good for her and The National.

CL Wood, Abu Dhabi

There is room for all on the beach

The two women stood barely five metres apart as they paddled in the water at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.

One wore a bikini, the other an abaya. Both of them were laughing and interacting fully with their companions.

If they were not entirely comfortable in each other's presence, it didn't show.

To tolerate is not necessarily to agree with or like the expression of the other, but the ability to tolerate difference is a hallmark of a peaceful and stable society.

Islam has a long and admirable history of tolerance, and yet tolerance is threatened in many societies. The middle classes tend to flee from sectarian strife and the constraints of extremists.

The UAE is distinguished by its vibrant social debate and tolerance.

There is space for all shades of opinion, and there is space for the two Arab women on the beach.

Their ability to tolerate their difference is special.

P Maher, Dubai

Falkirk Wheel is an inspiration

I was pleased to see a photograph of the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland accompanying the story How boats will cross Sheikh Zayed Road (April 28).

It is an awesome piece of engineering.

Annette Waddington, Abu Dhabi

Romance rules in ancient Istanbul

In response to Istanbul proves a shopper's dream (April 5), I'd like to point out the magnificence of this city.

This year, my husband and I decided to travel to Istanbul, and it was a dream come true for me to celebrate my wedding anniversary in one of the world's most romantic cities.

Blessed with beautiful weather and handsome people, Istanbul is undoubtedly a city like no other.

Istanbul has experienced so much and yet it has changed very little. With a population of nearly 14 million, it is situated between two continents.

In 2010, it was named European Capital of Culture.

You will find traces of Ottoman and Greek rule throughout the city, as its ancient culture is well preserved.

Some parts of the city are still protected by the walls of Constantinople which date back to the 5th century, and the city has many historic mosques, synagogues, magnificent palaces and fairy tale castles. But history is not kind to anyone, and Turkey is not an exception. It suffered damage in the Second World War.

From the ancient Grand Bazaar to wonders of past glory this city attracts people from far and wide. Any Istanbul holiday is well worth the time.

Rabia Rizwan, Dubai