Liberal arts education needs wide parameter

Readers respond to The National's coverage.

A university education is not just about getting a job (March 22) was a very welcome article that poses many interesting questions.

At the American University of Sharjah, the article was distributed to the faculty by at least one dean who I believe absolutely shares the concerns expressed by the writer.

However, I remain apprehensive about the ability of UAE universities to engage, credibly, in a liberal arts education. In fact, I would very much like to know who those two lonely students of philosophy are, where they are studying, and what topics they are reading.

I am new to the UAE and cannot at all claim that I understand, or appreciate, the exact parameters of free thought in this region. But, so far, I remain sceptical. The ability to engage in, or, indeed, to encourage critical thinking is the sine qua non of a liberal arts education. If the answers to the major philosophical questions are already "known" and the history is already predetermined, there is little point in spending much time in those exercises.

The study of maths may be a different thing. In any case, I hope the article generates the discussion it deserves in academic as well as other circles

Ramez Maluf, Sharjah

Telesales losses have job fall-out

This is good news.

I don't need to be disturbed four or five times a week at work by poorly-pronounced English read verbatim from a poorly-written script by someone trying to sell me something I don't need or want and certainly didn't ask for.

The only people that should be calling me are people to whom I give my phone number. In general, people that I want to call me.

This kind of advertising is intrusive and should be banned. Let them pay for traditional advertising on radio, TV and public display.

Maybe you can make up for the lost jobs by hiring some people to make and distribute the advertisements.

Hopefully, they'll be able to hire someone who can write better than those who craft the scripts for the telemarketers.

Donald Glass, Abu Dhabi

Unequal sentence no good for justice

Regarding the piece, Emiratis threatened guards at nightclub, court told (March 21) I was most surprised to read this sentence: "AJ confessed before the court while MY did not attend the hearing."

I confess my concern at the variations in sentencing - others have received prison sentences for less.

Peaceful defendants with tiny amounts of drugs in their system have been imprisoned for months before a verdict, while others wielding knives and tear gas canisters are set free on bail?

Such decisions do little to foster a sense of trust in the application of justice.

CY , Abu Dhabi

Arab League and Libya hypocrisy

Regarding Military strikes keep Benghazi in rebel hands (March 20), the Arab League as an organisation seems only capable of talk.

And when somebody does say something of worth, others begin to detract from it.

Have they ever achieved anything in its tenure? I don't think so. Where were they when Libyan people were being massacred by Qaddafi? And now, all of a sudden, they express their concern as to civilian deaths as a result of coalition strikes?

On what basis of proof and with which evidence did they make such claims as to the coalition bombing civilians?

Perhaps the propaganda so favoured by Col Qaddafi is enough to encourage them to make noise.

Cyrus T, Dubai

Gaza's technician mirrors Vanunu

The article, Israel admits kidnapping operations manager of Gaza's only power plant (March 23), prompted me to write in.

The case is strikingly similar to that of the plight of Mordechai Vanunu, Israel's nuclear whistleblower. Things have not changed there either: the latest on Mr Vanunu's case is that he was convicted of 78 days more in solitary confinement in 2010.

Unlike Gaza's technician, however, the reason was essentially because he spoke to foreign media in 2004. That came after he was released from 18 years in jail for telling the world that Israel had already manufactured upwards of 200 nuclear warheads by 1986.

Essentially Israel continues to deny Vanunu the right to leave the state because Israeli security has a vendetta against him.

Eileen Fleming, Abu Dhabi