Many young students, especially girls, were delighted to see the former American president Bill Clinton during his visit to the American University of Dubai (AUD) for the first signing ceremony of the Arabic version of My Life, an autobiography of the 42nd American President William Jefferson Clinton.

By Vm Sathish (Contributor)

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Published: Tue 14 Dec 2004, 10:33 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:33 AM

Even more thrilled were the lucky students who could get a signed copy of the 1,000 page book priced Dh100 with their name handwritten by the former US president himself. During his third visit to the AUD in less than three years, Clinton, who looked a tad tired after his recent heart attack said he is confident that his book will encourage youngsters all over the world — especially the recipients of the Bill Clinton Scholarship organised by the University.

The book which became popular due to the president's involvement with Monica Lewinsky contains many unknown facts about his childhood, family, romantic life and political career. The first signing ceremony for the Arabic translation scheduled earlier this year had been postponed due to Clinton's health concerns.

"I am attracted to My Life because it contains details of his childhood and college life when he worked as an intern for Senator William Fulbright. The book also covers his life in Oxford where he was part of the Vietnam War protest movement," said Raafia, a young student. "My Life is a good book and I want to read it fully. Even though it is about 1,000 pages, I would read it over a period of time," added Rafia, a third year business management student of AUD. Like others she felt proud and happy to receive a signed copy of the book directly from the former American President, whom many considered a living legend. Like Raafia, many young students were eagerly waiting for what they considered a unique moment in life.

According to the organisers about 650 copies of My Book were sold out within two hours and many aspiring buyers were turned down as the stock was finished. Some beautiful ladies were carrying multiple copies of the same book, while others came to the AUD library carrying the book. Holding the book closely to their heart many ladies said that despite some controversy surrounding Monica that rocked American politics, they are impressed with Clinton's family life and political career. Amidst tight security and regulated entry strictly by invitation, women dominated the crowd that gathered inside the small library building. Using their mobile phone cameras, many of them were found photographing the former president.

"It is a nice book and I have already read half of it. I am impressed with his childhood memoirs, especially the family problems that he encountered as a child and youngster," said Pranshuta, another AUD second year student, who shared her friend's thoughts and fantasies about the great American politician. "The book is a great encouragement to students like us," she said. Pranshuta, like some others in the crowd had already bought the book a month back. Despite the fact that an Arabic version was available for the Middle East readers, demand was still for the original English version, which was earlier priced $35. In the book Clinton narrates the emotional pressures of his youth-born after his father's death. He was caught in the dysfunctional relationship between his feisty, nurturing mother and his abusive stepfather whom he never ceased to love and whose name he took. "I have spent Dh100 to buy the English version because I am from Iran," said Rosahgol, a student of Business Management who cannot read Arabic. Even though the US and Iran share a love-hate relationship the Iranian girl seemed to be enthused to read Clinton's autobiography. "I am happy to be here to receive a signed copy of My Life directly from the former US President. I am happy to see him and to have this book," she added. The young Iranian girl student seems to be impressed with that part of the book which deals with his family life. She said she did not read the part dealing with his private romantic affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern who created a major crisis in the former President's personal life and political career. "I have seen his family story on Channel 2," she added. Several Arab students shied away from commenting on the book.

A couple — Omar Wehabi an insurance consultant and his wife Angeline — carrying two copies of My Life said they are not regular readers. While it may take one year for the husband to read the book fully, the wife said she may finish within a few months. "The book has many details about the Clinton family which I did not know earlier. We did not know that he had a brother," said Angeline, a mother, who considers Clinton's family life as nothing abnormal. "I met the former President in London and this is the second time that I am seeing him personally," she said. According to the couple, Clinton's affair with Monica that attracted many readers to the book is a private affair. "I think it is his private life and I will read it privately. So no comments," said the husband.

According AUD students Gautam Abby and Paya Ebrahim, reading the book is a great experience. Even though they don't follow American politics or any politics for that matter, they are aware of My Life as part of it is available for download from the Internet. "Clinton is a charismatic person and I may not read the entire book. I have already read sections of it from the Internet," he added. Whether people in the Middle East love or hate America, My Life is being sold like hot cakes and Clinton seemed happy to witness more dollars pouring into his bank accounts.

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