The Gulf Today

Posted by The Gulf Today on September 14, 2012 in News Clips

ABU DHABI: James Zogby, renowned journalist and president of the Arab American Institute, unveiled the results of his latest poll, “How Non-Arab Muslims View the Arab World,” on Wednesday evening at an event hosted by the NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Institute, moderated by Editor-in-Chief of The National Hassan Fattah.

While the majority of the 5,000 people Zogby surveyed in Muslim countries outside of the Arab World namely, Senegal, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Turkey reported overall positive attitudes toward Arabs, further questioning during the survey suggested that this initial response could be masking some negative perceptions, Zogby told the audience of more than 200 people.

More than three quarters of respondents across the five countries polled indicated overall favorable attitudes toward Arabs, with the positive reaction especially high in Pakistan, where 95 per cent of the respondents indicated favourable perceptions.

Iran was the least positive of the polled countries, with Zogby noting that despite 76 per cent initially responding that they had favourable attitudes, roughly half of Iranian respondents made a negative reference when asked the more open-ended questions about their first reaction when they think about Arabs.

In addition to being a vehicle to understanding existing perceptions, the poll also questioned how respondents inform their views about the Arab World and how this affects their attitudes.

The most significant factor to impact an individual’s attitude, according to the survey results, is having a direct personal experience with Arabs and Arab countries, Zogby said.

“Travel and trade improves relations and understanding and breaks down stereotypes,” he said. “Understanding matters, it’s good for business, it’s good for politics, and it’s good for simply the stability you need to advance.”

Zogby is a visiting professor of Social Research and Public Policy at NYU Abu Dhabi.

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