Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 February 2019

Clinton top choice for UAE’s Arab residents, although a reluctant one for some

Most UAE residents from the Middle East and North Africa said they would vote for Hillary Clinton if they could, but some would do so reluctantly.
Safwan Al Amin, an Iraqi resident of the UAE, is not impressed by the platform of Donald Trump. Antonie Robertson / The National
Safwan Al Amin, an Iraqi resident of the UAE, is not impressed by the platform of Donald Trump. Antonie Robertson / The National

This is the seventh in a daily series that explores how expats from around the world feel ahead of the US presidential election on November 8. We have spoken to people from Latin America, South Asia, Africa, Russia and East Asia and the MENA region. Next, we talk to people from the United States and review the results from our online poll.

ABU DHABI // Most UAE residents from the Middle East and North Africa say that they would choose Hillary Clinton as next president of the United States, although some would do so reluctantly.

Safwan Al Amin, a 32-year-old Iraqi, said Democrat Mrs Clinton was the only viable candidate and Republican candidate Donald Trump was “reckless”.

“It is imperative that he is stopped from being elected to the US presidency,” he said.

“Besides not possessing the right temperament, being wildly unqualified, reckless and seemingly unprepared for the job, Trump also appears to have adopted a number of ill-advised policies towards the Middle East.”

He said Mr Trump has shown a lack of interest and understanding of the complex war in Syria, vacillating between saying he would directly confront ISIL and that he would let Russia take the lead in that war.

“With regards to Iraq, he has not laid out a coherent policy except for repeatedly declaring that the US should have ‘taken the oil’, flouting international law and ignoring the disastrous consequences of such actions,” Mr Al Amin said.

Mr Trump has been extremely unpopular in the region following his comments on banning Muslims from entering the US and suggesting America should have “taken” Iraq’s oil after the 2003 invasion. He also made insulting remarks about Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal on Twitter earlier this year.

Mr Al Amin said Mr Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims could have far-ranging effects, including being used as a recruitment tool for extremists. He hoped Americans would “make the right choice for themselves and the world.”

Dina Hassan, a 31-year-old from Lebanon, echoed those sentiments.

“This would be a no-brainer. I would vote for Clinton,” she said. “It is just mind-boggling how far Trump has got and that he is actually the Republican nominee.”

She said Mr Trump’s statements on women, immigrants, minority groups and Muslims were unacceptable. Although she would have liked to see what Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders would have done as president, she would choose Mrs Clinton so that Mr Trump would not have a place in the White House.

Maha Al Ali, a 31-year-old Emirati whose husband and daughter are US citizens, said she wouldn’t hestitate to vote for Mr Sanders if he had been the nominee. However, if she could, she would reluctantly vote for Hillary Clinton, as her husband did.

“It is not because I support her, but I just don’t like what her opponent stands for,” she said.

Of the two candidates, Ms Clinton’s experience in foreign affairs would be more beneficial for the region, while Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which incited hate across the country, could further destabilse the Middle East, said Ms Al Ali.

If Mr Trump is elected, Ms Ali said, it would no longer be possible to have the option of moving her family to the US.

“I need to know if my daughter, my husband who has converted to Islam, and I would be let into the country and what kind of future my daughter would have in the country,” she said.

“If it really is Trump, then I would defiantly wait for him to leave the White House before going back,” she said.

Nasser Hashem, from Syria, said he would vote for Mrs Clinton.

“I’m actually really glad that this is not a choice I have to make. But she has experience as a first lady in the reasonably positive Clinton era and she might be the lesser of two evils,” he said.

Ahmed Ayouche, a 35-year-old Moroccan, said he would not vote for either.

“None of them deserve it,” he said. “Trump isn’t always wrong. He’s tough, but that’s the way we have to be in some situations, like with the immigrants, but not with the Islamic ones.”

He said Mrs Clinton had done “nothing” for America.

“But Trump is a businessman and we don’t understand what he’s doing so it scares me,” Mr Ayouche said. “On the other hand, it’s something different, new, and I like that.

“But it may be for the worst, which is why I would not vote.”


* With additional reporting by Thamer Al Subaihi

Updated: November 6, 2016 04:00 AM