Barack Is Back: A lighter look from the UAE

How did the UAE react to news of Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney in the US elections? I took a trawl of the local web to have a look.

Starting with an example of our mainstream media, the Dubai-based Gulf News summarised the reactions of local residents with a top line that Obama was “viewed as the lesser of two evils”. They continue to say that their responses were mixed, but there’s not that much evidence of that from the three (yes, three) vox pops they included.

A 40-year-old Jordanian-American teacher in Abu Dhabi said Obama was the better choice as Mitt Romney is too conservative.

A 22-year-old Emirati student in Dubai is said to believe Romney would have turned out to be another George W. Bush if he’d won.

Finally, a 22-year-old Syrian-American who said she’s ‘happy’ with the result but says she didn’t vote because she missed the deadline but admits she doesn’t follow US politics and only hopes Obama does something about Syria because things seem to be getting worse and worse.

I would’ve stopped interviewing the general public then and there as well.

The Twittersphere was rife with reaction, however. Dubai’s Al Wasl Football Club for one were barracking for Obama according to Twitter.

@Al_Wasl tweeted:

Congratulations: #AlWasl’s Fan, Barck [sic] Hussain Obama (@BarackObama) wins the US Presidential Elections again

They post a link to this article from 2009 in the Daily Mail, claiming Obama had ditched West Ham in favour of Al Wasl after a fan sent him a Wasl shirt.

Laura, a Dubai-based Brit known for her shopping blog Buy Now, Blog Later, also tweeted:

Had stressful dreams about the US election. Romney got in, Iran was invaded and I had to evacuate Dubai. Fingers crossed for Obama then!

A straw poll by 7Days, in the lead-up to the election looked a little deeper. They quoted Dubai-based Middle East security expert Dr Theodore Karasik’s analysis:

…Romney’s staff has already come out and claimed that China is an enemy and Russia is an enemy and Venezuela’s an enemy and Iran is an enemy. We could see a lot of America flexing its muscles all over the place and creating a lot of tensions.

With the Obama people, they believe a bit more in the diplomatic process but that diplomatic process, I believe, is also going to take a turn to the right.

And snippets of other views from UAE-resident US-citizens:

Obama voter focused on foreign policy: “I think my biggest concern right now is Iran. I look back at what happened in the Bush era” 

Swinging voter who switched to Romney: “I was prepared to give Obama four years but there is little improving in the economy.”

Reluctant Obama voter: “Myself and several Americans I know are so fed up with the childish antics of both parties that we don’t want to associate ourselves with either and wish there were a viable third party.”

Ohio-registered voter who lacks confidence in Romney: “I can’t trust anyone who hides their tax returns.”

The US Consulate in Dubai estimated there were around 40,000 Americans in the UAE, but the number who voted was unknown because ballots were sent directly to individual state offices.

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