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Arab world reacts to Obama's first regional visit

The first impression of President Barack Obama for people in many Arab countries is that he appears to deeply contrast former President George W. Bush.

After Obama said to the Turkish parliament on Tuesday that the United States “is not and never will be in a war with Islam,” he drew praise from Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, the Australian reported via Agence France-Presse. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi claimed Obama has broken from the "arrogance" of past U.S. presidents.

Sheik Mohammed al-Nujaimi of Saudi Arabia, who is on the government committee that rehabilitates militants away from extremism, said that Obama behavior makes it less likely for young Muslims to join terrorist groups, Newsday.com reported.

In Beirut on Wednesday, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said he believed Obama's comments in Turkey earlier this week were sincere, the Star reported via Reuters. While he acknowledged optimism about Obama's difference from Bush - who he said did not have an open attitude with the Muslim world - Fadlallah said that the true test for Obama will be whether he can implement a policy in the face of institutions beyond his control.

The leading concern among Muslims in the Middle East is the U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Newsday.com reported. Abul Gheit and Fadlallah pointed to the situation as among the most pressing issues in the region. Fadlallah and Gaddafi were also clear that Obama's actions will still need to back up his words regarding engagement with the Arab world.