I refer to the article Survey suggests luxuries have become a lifestyle in UAE (January 12). As with many things, what exactly are luxuries depends on whom you ask. For example, are forests considered luxuries in Europe? How about weather that is below 40C? To Europeans the lifestyle in the UAE may seem exotic and filled with luxury. But from an Emirati perspective, we don't have the weather and other natural luxuries that are available in other countries. I consider it a luxury to sit on a train travelling from London to Leeds. I love watching the greenery from the train as it passes through the countryside.
We lack many of the natural luxuries that other nations enjoy, so we try to compensate by building indoor ski slopes and huge shopping malls. But I'm sure every Emirati would tell you we would trade it all for the natural greenery and water resources enjoyed by Europe and the US. On the flip side, Europeans and Americans often see nice cars and shopping malls as luxuries, often taking for granted the natural beauty their countries enjoy. BuAhmed al Hashimi, Abu Dhabi
The newspaper article about luxuries as a lifestyle has stimulated a debate that is less able to be resolved in a place like the UAE than the chicken and egg one. Consider this: you first have a profusion of shopping malls that are more than a dime a dozen, including the largest in the world, right here at your doorstep, flooding you with designer labels of every description. You have to live, breathe, walk and sleep retail, and then you have people telling you that the UAE is a more brand-orientated and shopaholic country than any other.
Unless and until we manage to break with the culture of shopping (we know this is not going to happen any time soon, as it is vital to keep people coming back here for tourism as well as for business), we don't dare question our proclivity as residents to shop till we drop. Escapism? Perhaps, of a sort, but there are all kinds of addictions, aren't there? So, why blame the UAE? We are products of our circumstances - as that famous excuse goes. We live breathe and eat brands, because we are surrounded by them. Put the most level-headed miser in a city like Dubai and see him become a shopaholic in six months. Anupama Chand, Dubai
Jihad Hashim Brown in his opinion article Is Muslim fraternity even possible? (January 9) explains that Islam teaches a fraternity of believers and the just treatment of all Muslims as brethren. He advises us that one has certain obligations toward fellow believers. Unfortunately, this truth is often misinterpreted as justifying the exclusion and mistreatment of unbelievers, resulting in what we have observed this month in Egypt and Malaysia.
Both Muslims and Christians have taken to defending and avenging their own brethren while taking violent action against one another on the basis of religion. Those involved in the violence may have forgotten another principle of their faiths, the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed. Jesus preached the brotherhood of all men by telling us to love not only our neighbours, but also those who have abused and mistreated us. He taught us to value others by treating them the same way we want to be treated. In other words, a believer has certain obligations toward everyone. Islam teaches: "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." A believer only wishes for his fellow man what he wishes for himself. By doing so, he is submitting to the will of God.
If Muslims and Christians agree that everyone is descended from Adam and Eve, then all men are our brothers, all women our sisters, and every human being has inherent value because he or she is God's creation. It is easy to embrace people like yourself and defend those who agree, but it takes a much higher calling to be able to extend tolerance and kindness to everyone. Justin Kyle, UAE
In reference to the front page story Smoking ban goes into effect today (January 13), why do cafes and coffee shops in Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall and Khalidiya Mall continue to ignore the smoking bans? Are the owners and staff too scared to ask customers not to smoke? I never go into these places because of the stench. You would be surprised how much your businesses might pick up if you stop the smokers. Baakies Keys, Abu Dhabi
I refer to Nuclear programme will clean up the skies (January 11). I applaud the "emissions free" approach. However, what is going to be done with the nuclear waste generated from these nuclear reactors? Nuclear waste can devastate the environment. It cannot be put into the ground or the sea and has a long, long life cycle. PJ, US