May 19

Past Event

The 2009 Arab Public Opinion Poll: A View from the Middle East



  • Shibley Telhami

    Telhami says it is striking that, when you look at the numbers without Egypt, 60 percent of the Arab public polled have a positive view of President Obama.

    Shibley Telhami

  • Shibley Telhami

    According to his poll, Telhami says Israel and the U.S. still rank as the biggest threats; the number of people who identify Iran as a threat is increasing; and for the first time China has emerged as a threat.

    Shibley Telhami

  • James Zogby

    Zogby says it''s important to note the difference in public opinion between countries in the Gulf and those that neighbor Israel. In Egypt, Obama faces a skeptical and wary public.

  • Marc Lynch

    Lynch says President Obama has a short window of time to change American foreign policy and that the work of governments to create anti-Iranian sentiment in Arab nations is working.


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As President Obama prepared to address the greater Muslim world from Egypt, understanding the mood and opinions of the Arab public is a critical challenge. As the people of the region respond to a wide range of dynamics—including American efforts to jump-start the Middle East peace process, stabilize Iraq and halt extremist gains in Pakistan and Afghanistan—accurately gauging Arab public opinion is vital.

On May 19, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted the release of a new 2009 University of Maryland/Zogby International public opinion poll which reveals long-term trends and surprising revelations about perceptions of the United States and President Barack Obama in the Middle East. Shibley Telhami, Saban Center nonresident senior fellow and principal investigator of the poll, and the Anwar Sadat professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, presented his latest polling research and key findings. He was joined for a discussion of the poll results by James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute and Marc Lynch, associate professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.

Saban Center Director Martin Indyk provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, panelists took audience questions.

Event Agenda


May 19, 2009

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EDT

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105