US foreign policy viewed as a key driver of Arab region’s events
Arab News, in collaboration with YouGov, the leading polling agency, launched a survey of 3,097 participants from 18 countries in September to answer the following question: What are Arabs expecting from the next US administration?
The poll, which spans North Africa, the Levant and the Gulf, was established to gauge public opinion on US politics in relation to the region.
The relatively large sample covered various demographics to maximize the representation of public opinion. The survey included adult males and females above 18 years old, and aimed to understand what the Arab public expects from the next US administration. With a +/-1.761 error margin, the results will have a high degree of accuracy.
The survey results have been rebased, in line with accepted industry standards, to remove “Don’t Know” or “Can’t Say” answers to compare only relevant answers. Launched prior to the much anticipated 2020 US presidential elections, the Arab News/YouGov survey aims to gauge how the Arab public views the two candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, as well as US policies and their effects on the region.
This survey will be of great importance to whichever administration takes over the White House next year, for it can provide feedback on what is possible and feasible, and what is not, in terms of US foreign policy.
The survey utilized two important elements: The skill and expertise of YouGov in polling worldwide, and the access Arab News has, as the “voice of a changing region,” through its network in the Arab world.
The survey coincides with the establishment of a new Arab News Research & Studies Unit.
The center is as a natural extension of the daily’s current operations, and, endowed with a large pool of contributors and reporters and a presence that spans a large geographic area, Arab News has been able to draw upon those assets to develop the center.
Coming from a news background, the research center will provide dynamic, in-depth analyses. Its briefs and studies will aim at grasping the complexities of the situation at hand and presenting them in a clear, simple and concise format. Especially in the West, Arab News is a widely quoted source when referring to the Arab region.
The center will start its work with this very important endeavor, looking at the Arab perception of the next administration’s policies.
US foreign policy, Arab people believe, is a key driver of events in the region. There is a general perception, no doubt exaggerated, that whatever happens across Arab countries is partly by American design.
The survey found that half of the older respondents follow US politics. This shows how crucial the average Arab views US policy to be to the region. Diving into the mind of Arab citizens and asking them to express opinions freely is valuable information to both Arab leaders, and decision makers in Washington.
This type of information enables closer cooperation between the US and Arab countries. It will help the US formulate policies acceptable to Arab populations, and make it easier for Arab leaders to align themselves with American policies which will lead to stronger partnerships across the region.
Arab News has shown in the past that it has an ambitious vision. It has expanded, with editions for Japan, France and Pakistan. The research center represents another qualitative leap.
This Arab News/YouGov survey is only the start of a very ambitious project. It is the start of many partnerships that will create in-depth analysis and objective and unbiased data, which in turn will provide the necessary feedback for policy makers.
• Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib is a specialist in US-Arab relations with a focus on lobbying. She holds a Ph.D. in politics from the University of Exeter and is an affiliated scholar with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.