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US election 2016: Feeling sorry for all Americans

06-Nov-2016 :

This week will usher in a new President of the United States of America as voters go to the polls to decide once and for all who would it be: Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump? Interest on the successor to President Barack Obama is fairly high even beyond US borders as there is no denying that US foreign policy impacts the fortunes of many countries across the globe.

It is no different in Saudi Arabia, where the question on the eventual heir to the White House throne has been on the minds of many in recent months as the campaign frenzy from both camps intensified. Saudis have a long established link to the US through oil exploration and through generations of students sent over there for higher studies. Almost everyone you speak to has fond memories of time spent in America and will quickly acknowledge their experience as being a fruitful one. Some have even established second homes there and today their children and grandchildren have followed suit.

One Saudi, however, said: “Why would I care who replaces Obama? I have no voice in their political process or any voting privileges. At best I am a spectator on the sidelines, watching the current circus of candidates — each selling himself or herself to the American public. But I do care. I spent some of my teenage and formative years in that country. I learned many of the professional skills there, that I use till today and I am grateful for many other things learned or acquired during my times in the US. I have witnessed a good and harmonious culture made of very good people. I continue to maintain my bond with that great country, although in recent times, the changes have been somewhat worrying.”

Other thoughts were sought from various Saudis of diverse backgrounds on how they saw this election and their take on the two leading candidates, as I canvassed for opinion. The responses were muted, with most people telling me they were just confused. Confused about what? About how a great country like the US could not find two better people to represent them than Hillary and Trump!

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