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In Arab world, Biden favored over Trump in US election — poll

Survey of 3,097 people across 18 Middle East and North African countries finds around 39% back Democratic candidate, only 12% support incumbent

Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives at The Queen theater on October 19, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives at The Queen theater on October 19, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Democratic nominee Joe Biden substantially leads his Republican opponent Donald Trump as the Arab world’s preferred candidate in next month’s US presidential candidate, an opinion poll indicated Sunday.

Out of 3,097 people polled across 18 Middle East and North African countries, around 39 percent favored Biden while only 12% opted for Trump, according to the survey carried out by British pollster YouGov and commissioned by Saudi daily Arab News.

“When asked which candidate would be better for the Arab World if elected president, most believe that neither candidate (49%) would fulfill such a description, yet Biden is still considered a better option to Trump,” the survey said.

The November 3 election, in which incumbent Trump is fighting to secure a second term in office, is being closely watched across the Arab world, where the United States plays a key role.

In this combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020, Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden (L) and US President Donald Trump speak during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. (Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP)

Trump is widely seen as the preferred candidate among a slew of Arab governments, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for an array of reasons including his tough stance against their regional rival Iran.

In contrast to his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump also staunchly backed Arab rulers, including Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the face of serious allegations of human rights abuse.

But the poll reflects a different public opinion.

“If the Arab world were choosing the next president, Biden would win by a landslide,” YouGov’s chief Stephan Shakespeare told AFP.

“But that’s partly because they don’t know much about Biden — only half say they have heard of them, while nearly everyone has heard of Trump.”

Should Biden win, some 58 percent of Arabs said he “must distance himself from the Obama administration policies.”

A screenshot of US President Donald Trump, Saudi King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sissi touching a glowing globe to launch the opening of an anti-extremism center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (Screenshot)

Biden served as vice president in the Obama administration.

Trump won some support in the poll for scrapping an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Tehran and imposing strict sanctions against the Iranian regime, but only 17 percent Arabs felt his stance would made the region safer.

The poll suggested Trump’s 2017 decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem proved overwhelmingly unpopular, with 89 percent of Arabs opposing it.

The poll listed youth empowerment, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the global coronavirus pandemic among the top three concerns Arabs would like the next US president to focus on.

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