x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Expatriates surprised by decisive win

People across the UAE were transfixed by what many have described as the most important US presidential election in half a century.

A US embassy reception held in Dubai.
A US embassy reception held in Dubai.

ABU DHABI // Americans and non-Americans alike gathered through the night across the UAE to watch what many have described as the most important US presidential election in half a century. Accustomed to razor-thin margins after the last two US elections, many were surprised that Barack Obama defeated his Republican rival in such decisive fashion. "I'm really shocked that it happened so quickly," Mary Adams, 26, a Democrat supporter, said at an election party in Dubai. "I really thought it would be more drawn out and the results much closer."

Miss Adams had been uncertain that Mr Obama would win, despite dozens of polls predicting victory by a wide margin. By 8.30am, it was clear that John McCain had been trounced. "I was surprised that the point spread was as wide as it was," said Kim Childs, 48, an American in Abu Dhabi who voted for Mr McCain. "I thought the end result would have been much closer, not a blowout. I thought McCain had a strong chance at winning.

"I'm disappointed in the result, for sure, but it's not like I'm depressed and thinking, 'Oh my gosh, what are we going to do now?'" Mrs Childs, the former head of the American Business Group of Abu Dhabi, said she felt some solace despite the loss of her candidate. The acrimonious debates that had divided Americans appeared to have given way to a greater sense of unity. "It has come across that groups of Americans really feared each other. But the polls actually show that they are united," she said. "In McCain's concession speech, he said it is time to unite under Obama and call for change. That says so much about his character, and I'm hopeful Obama will tap him for a role in his government."

UAE leaders began extending their congratulations to the president elect. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the federation and Ruler of Dubai, sent congratulatory messages to Mr Obama. Their sentiments were shared by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, according to the state news agency WAM.

* The National