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Brookings: 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll Results

Author: Shibley Telhami, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
August 5, 2010

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This year’s poll surveyed 3,976 people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, during the period of June 29–July 20, 2010.

Among the key poll findings are:

  • A substantial change in the assessment of President Obama, both as president of the United States and of Obama personally.
  • Remarkably stable views on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the prospects of its resolution.
  • A majority of the Arab public now see a nuclear-armed Iran as being better for the Middle East.

Among other things, the poll also examined how Arabs score specific American policies in the past year, how they rank other countries across a number of variables, and how they prioritize attitudes toward social and religious issues.

ATTITUDES TOWARD OBAMA

Among the most striking findings on the question of attitudes toward President Obama: Early in the Obama administration, in April and May 2009, 51% of the respondents in the six countries expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East. In the 2010 poll, only 16% were hopeful, while a majority - 63% - was discouraged.

ATTITUDES TOWARD IRAN

On Iran's potential nuclear weapons status, results show another dramatic shift in public opinion. While the results vary from country to country, the weighted average across the six countries is telling:  in 2009, only 29% of those polled said that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons would be "positive" for the Middle East; in 2010, 57% of those polled indicate that such an outcome would be "positive" for the Middle East.

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