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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

As US election nears, UAE’s South Asian expats hope for stable ties

Issues such as trade and security were among the top concerns for UAE residents from South Asian countries as the US elects its next president.
Hossain Turjo says Donald Trump will not be as interested in global engagement as Hillary Clinton. Christopher Pike / The National
Hossain Turjo says Donald Trump will not be as interested in global engagement as Hillary Clinton. Christopher Pike / The National

This is the second in a daily series that explores how expats from around the world feel ahead of the US presidential election on November 8. On Tuesday we spoke to people from Latin America, next we talk to people from Australasia

ABU DHABI // The US election is about who can best maintain bilateral relations with their countries, South Asian expatriates said.

Hossain Turjo, a Bangladeshi student at New York University Abu Dhabi, said Hillary Clinton was more qualified than Donald Trump to be the next US president even though she was not without her faults.

“Whatever Hillary’s faults may be, I don’t think she has anything against people interacting the way we have for many years,” he said. “I don’t think she has ­anything against Muslims coming to the US for education, work or tourism.”

Mr Turjo said Bangladesh had benefited from student exchange programmes that fostered relations between the United States and South Asia, contributing to peace.

“In my country, a lot of students would never have had the opportunity to engage or interact with the international community outside Bangladesh if not for exchange programmes that were set up by the US,” he said.

Mr Trump would not be as interested in international engagement as Mrs Clinton, Mr Turjo said, adding that Mr Trump was not only unqualified to lead the US, but was also a dubious individual.

“My main concern is that Trump is a bad man and people are responding to his call,” he said.

“You have a man who has insulted races, tribes, religions, and people are applauding him for it. It worries me.”

Mr Turjo also voiced concern that US-Bangladesh programmes could be suspended should Mr Trump win the presidential election. “To have ourselves shut off from these resources because the American people in their wisdom decide that a racist leader is exactly what they need, that is just depressing,” he said.

Another important topic of discussion among South Asian expats is financial ties and trade deals – some of which the Republican candidate has said he would renegotiate.

“Whatever is happening around us and around the world, we want stability and we want settled and mature decisions,” said K Muraleedharan, managing director of the Southern Franchise Company, which has restaurants, hotels and catering services in the UAE and India.

Although Mr Trump has backtracked on statements about reducing US trade with South Asia, Mr Muraleedharan said he still questioned Mr Trump’s trade policy.

“Trump is trying to get more friendly with India but we don’t know what his intentions are. How far it goes, we don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it’s just an election tactic, because his initial attitude wasn’t the same. So we don’t know about him.”

Mr Muraleedharan said Mrs Clinton was his candidate of choice.

L M, a Pakistani businessman, said he was mostly concerned about security.

“I am not sure which candidate will be more involved with international efforts to curb violence, but this is a main concern for us,” he said.

nalwasmi@thenational.ae

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