Arabs see hope in Obama after years of Bush
An Arab news network blared US election coverage in a Cairo hair salon, and the barbers and beauticians watched the images of Barack Obama's victory in amazement.
Then it cut to scenes from the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence and the funeral of Gaza fighters.
"Look, do you see that? That will end! It will get better!" blurted Ayman al-Sawi, caught up in the Obama enthusiasm.
Others in the shop sneered. All American presidents are the same: Pro-Israel, one man said. But al-Sawi stood his ground.
"It won't be perfect, but Obama will be kinder," insisted the owner of a nearby electronics shop, who was hanging out in the salon on a customer-less Wednesday morning. "Look, I know America will always put Israel first, I'm not naive ... But at least with Obama, I feel he will throw us a bone."
Almost despite themselves, many Arabs are daring to hope Obama will bring something new to the Middle East, where bitterness toward the US is probably the highest in the world.
Part of the optimism is simple joy at the imminent end of the Bush administration. Few figures are more disliked among the Mideast public than President Bush.
Over past years, the bloodshed in Iraq, fears of war with Iran, abuse at Abu Ghraib and prisoners at Guantanamo convinced many that the United States was an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bully. A feeling of despair and hopelessness became widespread and few believed US policies would ever change.