‘The World Through Arab Eyes,” by Shibley Telhami could not come at a more opportune time. The recent Arab Spring heralds the beginning of participatory politics in several states of the Middle East and North Africa, and has spurred the unelected monarchs of other countries in the region to launch democratic reforms. What ordinary Arabs think matters more than ever.
Telhami, professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland and author of “The Stakes: America in the Middle East,” distills a decade of polls into this essential handbook on average Arabs’ opinions of everything from US foreign policy to Sharia. Along the way, he provides commentary and anecdotes drawn from his own experiences, breaking the monotony of charts and graphs. The book focuses on the years 2003 to 2012, during which time information was gathered from representative population samples in six Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. (Limited polling took place in Israel and the United States.) The precisely worded questions were crafted or approved by Telhami.