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Trump or Clinton? Neither are popular in Arab world, says poll

According to survey, 47 percent of responders would snub both candidates if given chance to vote
There is little enthusiasm for either candidate in Arab world (AFP)

Almost half the population of the Middle East and North Africa would abstain if given the right to vote in next week's US presidential election, an opinion poll revealed on Thursday.

But Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton came far ahead of her Republican opponent Donald Trump as the preferred candidate to lead the United States, which plays a key role in the Arab world.

Out of more than 3,000 people polled across 18 countries, 47 percent "would snub both Clinton and Trump, if given chance to vote," according to the survey carried out by Saudi daily Arab News and British pollster YouGov.

Among those who would vote, 44 percent said they would opt for Clinton, while only nine percent said they would choose Trump, according to the results of the online survey conducted on 14-21 October.

"There is little enthusiasm for either candidate, but 78 percent believe Clinton would be better for the Arab world if elected as president versus 22 percent for Trump," said YouGov's chief Stephan Shakespeare.

On the conflict in Syria, 46 percent of respondents wanted Washington to put boots on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State group, while the remaining majority of 54 percent was against such a move.

Meanwhile, 44 percent said the incoming US president should annul the nuclear deal with Iran.

But asked about border security in their own countries and abortion, most of the participants appeared to share Trump's tough stance.

Ninety percent said they did not mind extra border restrictions if they felt their country's security was under threat, while 89 percent said abortion is never acceptable, except in extreme cases, like rape or life-threatening situations.

Omar Jamal, a 19-year-old mass communications student in Lebanon, who did not participate in the survey, said he does not believe the candidates can bring the war in Syria or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a peaceful resolution.

"Trump can’t negotiate a deal to save his life, and Hillary is not interested in doing so," he told MEE.

Jamal described the scandal-ridden US election cycle as a "joke".

Hussein Itany, a Lebanese communications adviser, said he prefers Trump for Middle Eastern issues, calling him pragmatic.

He said he does not trust Clinton, adding that while she is well-versed in diplomacy, she is not straightforward with her intentions.

"I am sure for a fact for instance that she will back blindly two nations, Saudi Arabia and Gulf (monarchies) and Israel," he told MEE.

He said Trump can depart from long-standing US policy traditions. However, Itany added that Clinton has better domestic US policies.

US elections will take place on Tuesday, 8 November.