For Europeans and Russians in UAE, mixed feelings over Clinton and Trump
This is the sixth 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. Next we talk to people from the MENA region.
ABU DHABI // With only a few days left before the US elections, UAE residents from Europe, Russia and nearby transcontinental countries have mixed feelings about the candidates.
Alain Thevenot, a 55-year-old French citizen living in Abu Dhabi, said he would vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump, if he could.
“Notwithstanding her mistakes, I really feel that Trump is the worst that could happen to the United States firstly, but furthermore to the world, because the American president is the most powerful man or woman in the world and I really think that this man could be dangerous on some issues,” said Mr Thevenot.
“Although I’m quite sure that if he is elected, he would not do half of what he said, he is hopeless.”
He compared Mr Trump’s success to Brexit in the UK, saying it was caused by middle-class citizens believing the words of leaders.
“Trump looks like them, he behaves like them, but I think he is incredibly clever if you look at his success in the business framework,” Mr Thevenot said.
“However, the US is the biggest democracy in the western world and it is extremely relevant, but Trump has been able to climb the steps and become the Republican candidate.
“In France, I am a republican, but I would never vote for a candidate like Trump.”
Banning Muslims from entering the US was one of Mr Trump’s main concerns
“It is unbelievable,” Mr Thevenot said. “Most of the Muslims in the US are American. He cannot ban his own citizens, it is ridiculous.
“But he said it because he wants to touch the hearts of the middle-class Americans. Clinton is the lesser evil of both.”
Gulnoza Mansur, a Kazakh student at New York University Abu Dhabi, would also vote for Mrs Clinton.
“One of the most important reasons to vote for her is that she has more credentials than her rival candidate for the presidency,” she said.
“It is intrinsic that her campaign is viewed differently just because she is a woman, which has only made it tougher for her to run – whether in 2008 or now.
“If Hillary takes up the mantle of the first female president of the United States, she will become a role model for a new generation of women striving to take on more leadership roles and it will undoubtedly change the way women are perceived now.”
As a native Tajik, raised in Kazakhstan and educated in Russian and American schools, she believes the results will have a significant impact on her region.
“From all western countries, the US is the only country which stabilises geopolitics in our region and supports our democratic system,” she said.
“Hillary is more aware of politics across Central Asian countries, but I doubt that Trump would even be capable of locating Kazakhstan or Tajikistan on the map.”
In an interview, Mrs Clinton claimed Russia was trying to restore influence in border areas, which threatened US interests, said Ms Mansur. Meanwhile, Mr Trump was a “zealous supporter” of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea.
“If Trump wins, we cannot exclude the revival of imperial Russia that will destabilise the whole region, but if Clinton wins, not only could she preserve regional security, but also foster our rising sovereign states’ democracy.”
However, Katerina Teresh, a 35-year-old Russian in Dubai, said her preference was Mr Trump.
“To be honest, you never know what is really happening behind closed doors with all these elections,” she said.
“Trump’s dialogue seems more sincere to me and his attitude towards Russia is better than Clinton’s.
“Hillary once said something not too nice about Russia but in general, I don’t believe that people voting will change something, I think it’s a political game and everything is decided beforehand.”
She said she found Mr Trump’s words more appealing.
“I like the way he thinks in general,” she said.
* With additional reporting by Naser Al Wasmi