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Despite efforts by Barack Obama, the US president, to heal the rift between the United States and the Muslim world, a recent poll suggests that he still has a lot of work to do.

Only a small percentage of Arabs seem to have been won over.

There has been some improvement in the US's standing during the past year due, in part, to the departure of George Bush, the former president, and to Obama's policies - including the announcement of a withdrawal from Iraq and a plan to shut the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. But the US's "negatives" remain high in Egypt and Jordan in particular, as well as in Saudi Arabia, according to the survey by the University of Maryland.

But this could all change. Early next month Obama will address the Muslim world in a speech in Cairo, Egypt. He is expected to make a decisive break from Bush's "global war on terror," which many Muslims perceived as a war on Islam. The speech is also expected to stress the importance of achieving a settlement in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

On Thursday, Riz discusses how the US is rebuilding its relationship with the Middle East with Emile Nakhleh, former director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Programme at the CIA, and Neil MacFarquhar, a US foreign correspondent who spent 25 years in the Middle East and has written of his time there in the newly published The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired on Thursday, May 21, 2009. 

Source: Al Jazeera