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Wed 21 Jan 2009 10:23 AM

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Dubai welcomes Obama's Muslim sentiment

Democrats Abroad applauds Obama's inauguration commitment to re-engage with the Musilm world.

US president Barack Obama’s comments on seeking a new way forward with the Muslim world were met with loud approval at an inauguration dinner organised by Democrats Abroad in Dubai on Tuesday.

Over 200 people, including several non-US expatriates, attended the event in Dubai’s Marina district to watch Obama’s inauguration speech and listen to special guest Jack Carter, son of former president Jimmy Carter, talk about his memories of his father’s inauguration.

“I don’t think there was a lot of surprise. I think people heard a lot of things that they strongly agreed with, particularly his comments on re-engaging with the Muslim world,” said Chris Hansen, chairman of the UAE chapter of Democrats Abroad.

The rapidly deteriorating US economy had done little to dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm for the first African American president since he won the US election in November.

But many guests said they thought it would take time for Obama to implement his policies and to start to address the challenges facing the world’s largest economy.

“The other big theme was that we’re all in this together. I really responded to that; we’re all going to have to take part and work hard to address these problems,” Hansen said.

Arab Americans have been disappointed over Obama’s silence on the war in Gaza, but several guests said on Tuesday that they still believe there would be a significant change in US policy in the region.

“I think people were looking for more clarity from him initially. I think in the next two weeks we’re going to get plenty of that,” Hansen said.

“As he said many times, there’s only one president at a time.”

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