Return to Transcripts main page


Thousands Attend Funerals Of Slain Israeli Teens; Secret City: Sharjah; One Square Meter: Aqaba; Israel Continues Offensive Against Hamas

Aired July 1, 2014 - 11:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: It's 7:00 p.m. here in Abu Dhabi and you join us in the first week of a journey that will take us through the Middle East

focusing on the issues resonating in the wake of the Arab Spring ahead of what could be a summer of reckoning.

Over the next month, Connect the World with me Becky Anderson will travel to key cities including Cairo, Beirut and Istanbul, bringing you

fresh insights from across the region.

This hour, mourners remember three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found in the West Bank. Israel says it will make Hamas pay for their

deaths, but the Palestinian group has a threat of its own.

Also ahead, political deadlock in Iraq. The government shows just how helpless it really is. We're live for you this evening in Baghdad.

ANNOUNCER: This is the hour we Connect the World with Becky Anderson live.

ANDERSON: Well, a very good evening.

An outpouring of grief and anger in Israel where three teenaged boys are being laid to rest this hour, their bodies found in a field in the West

Bank on Monday.

Let's get a look at some live pictures for you from the region as the Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both

attending the service. Mr. Netanyahu has publicly blamed Hamas for the teenagers' deaths and has vowed to make the group pay.

But Hamas itself vehemently denies any involvement in the abduction or murder of these teenagers. In fact, Palestinian media say another little

known group is claiming responsibility.

Well, as Israelis mourn the deaths of these teenagers, our Atika Shubert following the very latest for you from Jerusalem. Clearly, these

deaths, a tragedy to the families. What is the atmosphere like there?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can imagine this is a nation in mourning. Thousands of people, as you can see

there, attending the funeral which is now underway. The parents of each of the teenagers spoke saying how they had touched the souls of the people

there and how they still heard the voices of their children.

It's obviously a tragic time for the country and many Israelis are in mourning, but the question is what happens next, especially in the search

for the people that kidnapped these teenagers?

In the meantime, of course, what's been happening in the West Bank over the last two weeks -- we have seen Israeli authorities going in on

this massive manhunt for the two main suspects. And as a part of that last night another Palestinian teenager was killed. So there was also another

funeral happening in the Palestinian town of Janin (ph) today.

And what the concern is here for many people, Israeli and Palestinian alike, is that this is going to kick off a new wave of violence, Becky.

ANDERSON: Atika, Hamas denying any involvement in the abduction or murder of these boys, but when they hear the Israelis saying that this --

that Hamas will pay, the response simply this, that any action to punish the movement would, and I quote, "open the gates of hell."

As you rightly point out, what happens next will be very, very important won't it?

SHUBERT: Well, exactly.

The question is what will the response be from the Isreali government? And it's interesting that last night they held an emergency cabinet

meeting, but according to the newspaper -- daily newspaper here Haaretz, a number of different proposals were put out, but no agreement. So there

will be a second meeting tonight to try and come up with some sort of a response.

The problem here may be that it's not clear whether or not Hamas may have actually organized this as ordered an attack or not. Hamas has denied

responsibility even though it praised the abduction of the teenagers. And no credible claim really has come forward yet.

So we don't really know exactly what happened on that night, who carried it out yet. And that may be one of the reasons we haven't seen --

we have seen a response from the Israeli forces, for example strikes in Gaza, but we really haven't seen a consolidated statement from the

government yet.

ANDERSON: Whatever happens very difficult day there.

Atika, thank you.

The sectarian divide on the battlefield on Iraq was echoed in the political arena in parliament today as lawmakers met for the first time

since the April election. Sunni and Kurdish politicians refusing to return from recess, bringing the session to a halt.

Now officials say lawmakers may meet again next week.

Meanwhile, officials from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq say the time is right to hold a referendum on independence.

Senior international correspondent Arwa Damon following all of the developments in Iraq and joins us live from Baghdad.

It was always a big ask, wasn't it, but certainly the regional players here, the international community looking for a unified government going

forward, some asking for al-Maliki to step aside in order to provide that, that didn't happen. What happens next?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky what we saw today with parliament convening for the first time, the session chair had

asked for the constitution by the eldest member of parliament.

It started off fairly well. You had the parliamentarians sworn in in Arabic and also for the first time in Kurdish, a clear indication of the

Arab's efforts to reach out to the Kurds at this critical stage in the formation of the new government. But also given the crisis that the

country is facing there was then a half hour recess, following which about half of the parliamentarians did not show up. Basically the Sunnis and the

Kurds did not return to the session.

Underlying all of this is, of course, the reality that forming a government in Iraq historically has always been a very lengthy and

complicated process. And it's kind of a package deal where all the parties need to agree amongst themselves, but then also pre-agree on the

positions of speaker, president and prime minister, clearly failing to do that.

But, the thing is is there was a sense amongst many of the -- amongst in the population that perhaps this time around, given the severity of the

crisis the country is facing with ISIS promising to bring the battle to Baghdad, having just declared a caliphate that extends from Iraq to Syria,

that maybe this time around the politicians would find the maturity, the capacity to put aside their various differences and at least take this

initial first step towards government formation.

Today's parliament sessions should have at the very least seen a speaker of palirmanet and his two deputies elected.

But once again, Becky, the Iraqi population left very bitterly disappointed.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Arwa, on the ground for you.

We're going to have a lot more on the battle for Iraq. Coming up on Connect the World this hour, we're going to look back at the borders in the

region, which were drawn a long time ago. And whether redrawing them is, or should be on the cards. That a question we'll attempt to answer a

little later. And we'll take you to the Shia holy city of Karbala where Iraqis are very much on edge over the threat from ISIS.

There's also fear in neighboring Jordan. But some say a bigger threat there comes from within. We'll explain later in the show.

Well, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has spent hours today being questioned by police over alleged influence peddling. He is accused

of using this influence to obtain information about an investigation into his 2007 election campaign.

This is the first time a former head of state has been held for questioning in France and it could threaten his planes for a political


That is something that people have been expecting. Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann joining us live with more now

from PARis.

He can be held, I believe, for 48 hours and turned himself in. Is that correct? After his lawyer was questioned on Monday. What was the sort

of choreography of all of this?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact turned himself in is a suggestion that perhaps he was running from justice or

something -- no. I mean, basically they have invoked the requested that the lawyer and the chief justice of the supreme court and Sarkozy appear

before investigating police and they are appearing -- the police have up to 48 hours in which time they can question him as much as they want. And

Sarkozy has been in since 8:00 this morning, that's some time ago -- nine- and-a-half hours or so -- of questioning that has been going on.

And he -- we don't know what the questioning is about exactly, except we do know that this -- stems from the allegations that he had traded

information for influence. He basically wanted information on an investigation that was going on into some campaign financing. And he

turned apparently, according to the allegations, he turned to a supreme court justice who would have access to the information and suggested that

he might be able to help that justice obtain a job in Monaco if, in fact, he was able to provide any kind of information that would help him out.

And so that's the allegation. Whether or not it holds water it's sort of a question at this point.

I mean, Sarkozy has been investigated on something like six different scandals here in France, none of them have born enough wait that charges

have been brought, at least up to now, Becky.

ANDERSON: Jim Bitteramnn in Paris for you. Thank you, Jim.

And as the sun sets behind us here in Abu Dhabi, that is the Sheikh Zayed grand mosque behind me. The prayer for call will be shortly. And

people here after a very long day, 15 hours or so of fasting, will break their fast with their Iftar meal.

A very good evening from here. Let's reset. Still to come this evening, the Palestinian view of the deaths of the three Israeli teenagers

in the west Bank. I'll be talking with a prominent Palestinian legislator.

Plus, we'll investigate the dividing lines which make the crisis in Iraq such a complex one to resolve. That, after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson from Abu Dhabi. Welcome back.

One of our top stories, Iraq's new parliament at least supposed to meet for the first time earlier today, but in a development symptomatic of

the wider disarray affecting that country that session has been postponed until next week.

And as Iraqi forces battle Sunni militants, one threatened city has Iraqis signing up to defend it by the thousands. Arwa Damon takes us

inside the Shiite holy city of Karbala.


DAMON: In the early 1800s, an army of Wahhabis, Sunni extremists, tried to destroy the holy Shia shrines in Karbala -- the final resting

place of one of Shia Islam's most revered Imams -- Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas. They failed.

Now, more than two centuries later ISIS, a terrorist group more extreme and merciless than al Qaeda, is vowing to level the holy sites in


The spokesman for the terrorist organization released an audio message urging the group's followers to keep marching. As he said, the battle was

not yet raging, saying that it would rage in Baghdad and hear in the holy city of Karbala with the aim to destroy the sacred Shia shrines.

Security has always been tight around the city, now bolstered by volunteers. Karbala's governor, Aqil al-Taraifa (ph) says reports of

35,000 have come forward.

"We have two camps in Karbala that can train 3,00 to 4,000 at a time. And their training is in unconventional warfare," he says.

We arrive at one of those camps in the desert. The volunteers on a midday break from the searing sun.

"We're trying to create a special force," Falah On (ph) a computer engineer and volunteer himself says, "an offensive force."

Among those advising them are former members of the butter brigades, Iraqis trained in Iraq to fight Saddam's regime.

We are also told of units numbering in the thousands, deployed in hidden location throughout this harsh terrain, which now borders land ISIS

declares as its own.

Just on the other side of the lake is al Anbar Province, Iraq's Sunni heartland. ISIS has just renamed itself the Islamic State and claims Anbar

as part of its caliphate.

It's a declaration that enraged many Muslims, sowing fear among many Iraqis.

For the last decade, 28-year-old Abdel Abdul Majid (ph) has had his money exchange stand just outside the Karbala shrines.

"This place, even though we have security, we have good people, we don't feel safe," he tells us. "Everyone is on edge. People can't relax.

Iraq doesn't deserve this."

If ISIS succeeds in destroying these sacred shrines, it could unleash a sectarian war bloodier than anything Iraq or the region has seen in

recent history.

Arwa Damon CNN, Karbala, Iraq.


ANDERSON: Well, the declaration by ISIS of a caliphate, or Islamic state, under the leadership of Abu Bakar al-Baghadadi has renewed what is

an age old debate about territorial boundaries in Iraq and the Levant region.

Now the current lines in the sand largely drawn by a pair of European diplomats Mark Sykes and Francois Georges Picot almost a century ago, 1916.

But drawing new lines would spark a whole new set of issues.

That, at least, is the argument of our regular guest Faisal al Yafai, chief columnist at The Naitonal Newspaper who is here with me to explain.

The countries we know of in the Middle East -- Iraq, Jordan, Syria in the Levant here, drawn as I suggested in 1916 by this Sykes-Picot act. You

say don't mess around with that, why?

FAISAL AL YAFAI, THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER: Well, these lines have served the Middle East well. They weren't perfect. Look, the lines that

Sykes-Picot drew were done over the heads of the people. It has nothing to do with the people on the ground. And here is one example of that. Mosul,

a city in the west of Iraq today was originally going to be in Syria. The British wanted it because of the oil fields, took it from the French

mandate in Syria and put it into Iraq. And here we are a century later and Mosul is an integral part of the Iraqi state.

The problem is that if you start to move around these pieces today while half of the region is on fire, while the civil war in Syria is

raging, you could have a conflagration that would last for a generation.

ANDERSON: let me remind our viewers so that they are aware again of just how sort of the land lies here. There are more than 20 million Shia

Muslims living in Iraq, that's about two-thirds of the population. Take a look, for example at this map. Shiites shown here in blue live mainly in

the southern part of the country, Sunnis populate the west and Kurds live mainly in the north. But central and southwest Iraq is a mix of Shia and

Sunni Muslims. And the blue and orange shaded areas there you see is also a mix of Sunnis and Kurds in the north shown here in yellow and in orange.

It's clear that the fragmentation of Iraq is a possibility at least going forward.

Whether that is by default or by design, what would the consequences be.

YAFAI: Look at that map and you can see clearly what the consequences would be. The problem with Iraq is that these neat lines that we talk

about don't exist in reality. People are married into each other, people live amongst each other, the Sunnis and the Shia's exist together, the

Kurds and the Arabs are married into each other.

How do you say to one family with a Sunni mother, a Shia father, where are these people going to live? You are going to start to make millions

and millions of people homeless, on the move, mass migrations. And this is going to be an utterly chaotic state of affairs.

ANDERSON: What's the history of attempts by Arab nations to get more cohesive?

YAFAI: It's not good. I mean, since the caliphate ended in 1934 and the Ottoman empire collapsed, there have been various attempts, the most

successful of course was during the reign of Abdel Nasser in Egypt where they tried to have the United Arab Republic bringing together the Egyptians

and the Iraqis -- sorry, and the Syrians. And that didn't work very well. Actually it sparked off a whole generation of upheaval, political upheaval.

I think at the moment while the lines of Sykes-Picot have not been very good, they are the best for the moment that there is.

ANDERSON: Back to Sykes-Picot if you will, Faisal, because colonial powers may not be responsible for setting the Middle East ablaze as it were

at present, but the way the region was carved up was clearly designed to European interests, not to local ones. Now again we're talking 100 years

ago. You -- your conceit, your argument today is don't muck around with them because it's about as good as it gets at the moment and it could be a

lot worse -- correct?

YAFAI: Well, it could be a lot better.

ANDERSON: I think people locally don't feel that way, though.

YAFAI: The difficulty is that now is not the moment to have this conversation. By all means, let's have a conversation about the lines in

the Arab world and so forth, absolutely. But Syria is still on fire, Iraq is still a problem. Look at what's happening in Gaza. This is not the

moment now to start fiddling with lines.

What needs to happen is that the policies need to get fixed. And then we can talk about the leadership.

Take one example, if you say that Syria and Iraq are going to be one country, that's going to be a majority Sunni state. Who is going to rule

it? Bashar al-Assad who is murdering his Sunni population, or Maliki with a nakedly sectarian agenda. It sounds like an impossible scenario.

ANDERSON: With that, we're going to leave it there. Always good to speak to you. Thank you very much indeed. Faisal al Yafai.

You can read his opinion piece, his op-ed on the front page of Fascinating stuff.

So what do you think about his viewpoint? There it is on the front page. On a unified Iraq, the best way forward.

We can always follow our journey across the Middle East and catch up with our interviews and stories on our blog as well

for you.

Live from Abu Dhabi this is the show. Coming up, it's Jordan's jewel by the Red Sea, but there are grand plans in place to make it bigger and

even better. Find out what I'm talking about up next.


ANDERSON: Let's take you away from the news of politics just for a couple of minutes. It's time for us to take you to the Global Exchange

where we introduce you to the people and places paving the way forward in the world's emerging economies. We're staying in this region. The Red Sea

city of Aqaba in Jordan is in the midst of a construction boom. It's an ambitious expansion backed by Jordan's King Abdullah meant to make Akbar a

financial hub.

John Defterior now speaks with some of the developers and the money men involved in what is this week's One Square Meter.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a small city on the Red Sea, the port of Aqaba has some big things going on. There is a construction

boom underway with housing going up at a rapid pace. This is a working model of Mar Sazaid (ph) one of the biggest projects to break ground.

It took nearly two minutes to drive past the fencing which marks 3.2 kilometers of land.

Can Aqaba absorb this sort of scale of a project? Right now it looks like a fairly sleepy town, but you don't expect it to stay that way.

EMAD KILANI, CO-FOUNDER AL MACABAR JORDAN: We all believe in the vision that his majesty has for Aqaba.

DEFTERIOS: His majesty, of course, if King Abdullah of Jordan who has kept plans alive for the port since the launch in 2001.

Container traffic has more than doubled in eight years under the management of Danish operator AP Molar Mersk. 15 shipping lines serve

Jordan, Iraq and north to central Asia.

And there are designs for Aqaba to be the new financial hub.

KILANI: Where we are heading today is that it will be the economical capital of Jordan.

DEFTERIOS: Aqaba has been able to attract foreign direct investment from the Arab Gulf States. And this mosque is an indication of that. Its'

a replica of the grand mosque in Abu Dhabi.

UAE developer al Marbar (ph) will eventually pump half of the $20 billion that officials say has been committed to Aqaba. And a UAE

sovereign development fund put over $600 million to rescue a separate project hit by the global financial crisis.

ZIAD ABU JABER, DEVELOPER: So you come here to rest, to enjoy yourself, so...

DEFTERIOS: But credit has to go for the first mover here, developer Ziad Abu Jaber who launched the Talibay (ph) complex a decade ago with 440

units and three hotels.

Did people think you were a little bit nuts when you were the first mover into Aqaba in a big, large scale?

JABER: Well, they always think I'm nuts, but then they change their mind.

DEFTERIOS: But the gains are nothing to laugh at. Apartments like this one went for $900 per square meter when Talibay (ph) launched they had

more than tripled to $3,000 per square meter in just six years.

Now builders like Abu Jabbar (ph) say the city needs scale in terms of hotels. Today Aqaba has only 3,000 four and five star hotel rooms.

JABER: I'm greedy, so there's not limit for me. But in reality I think Jordan -- or Aqaba specifically -- needs about 7,000 rooms within the

next five years.

DEFTERIOS: Developers can only hope that unrest does not derail their ambitious plans.

John Defterios, CNN, Aqaba, Jordan.



ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live from Abu Dhabi. Welcome back.

The headlines for you this hour.

The first session of Iraq's new parliament ended abruptly after dozens of Sunni and Kurdish members refused to return after a recess earlier

today. Sources say the deal on the table from the Shia bloc was simply not good enough to bring those lawmakers back on board.

Tens of thousands of protesters have hit the streets of Hong Kong today. They want more control over their own government and for Beijing to

loosen its grip. The annual July 1 rally is held on the anniversary of the day that Britain handed control of Hong Kong back to China.

The Turkish prime minister is moving to extend his political dominance for at least another five years. Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party has

announced his candidacy in the August 10th presidential vote. Opponents say his election, which is likely, will entrench sectarian rule.

Israel this hour mourning three teenaged boys found murdered near Hebron. These are live pictures coming to you from the funeral. The

teenagers went missing in the West Bank 19 days ago while trying to hitchhike home. Israel's president and the prime minister attending their

funerals. Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas, the militant group, for the boys' deaths. The Palestinian group denies that it was involved.

Well, a little known group has reportedly claimed responsibility for murdering these teenagers. Last hour we heard from Dori Gold (ph), and

adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Joining me now from Ramallah in the West Bank is Hanan Ashwari who is a member of the PLO executive committee.

Thank you for joining us.

What do you know about this group Ansar as-Dawla al-Islamiya, or supporters of the Islamic State. And their threat, interestingly, to and I

quote slaughter the Palestinian Authority.

HANAN ASHWARI, PLO EXECUTIVE COUNCIL: Well, actually we -- I have no idea. We've never heard of this organization before. We don't know if it

really exists. And if it does we don't know how many people are in it. Obviously it's either a newcomer or it's a fictitious name. We have no

idea at all. And it is certainly not connected to the PLO or to the whole national movement.

ANDERSON: Israel continues to accuse Hamas of the abductions nad murder of these teenagers. Hamas denying that. If Netanyahu were to bring

a war on Gaza as has been suggested, Hamas warning, and I quote, the gates of hell will open to him. What happens next?

ASHWARI: Well, actually Israel cannot just start accusing everybody without any evidence. It cannot decide who is guilty before due process.

It cannot carry out a collective punitive campaign against all the Palestinian people the way it has been doing the last 19 days. It has

killed 11 Palestinians, including teenagers and children. So there are funerals every day in the West Bank and Gaza and Palestine.

And it has decided that it's going to punish everybody. And it has decided that Hamas is guilty even though Hamas denies any involvement. And

it has blown up the homes of two people because it has decided that they were guilty without even taking them to court of showing them any evidence.

So the question is not the end justifies the means. The question is whether Israel is interested in provoking the Palestinians beyond endurance

in supporting voices of extremism and violence and starting a whole new cycle of violence that would degenerate and lead the whole region into more

confrontations, or whether we are dealing with the causes of violence, including the occupation, ongoing settlement activities and inherent


ANDERSON: With respect, the Israelis certainly have said over the past couple of days that they have evidence that Hamas involved. Perhaps

that will come out in the wash in the days to come.

Let me ask you this, what is your response to reports that the Israeli government has proposed a way of new settlements in memory of the three

Israeli students?

ASHWARI: The Israeli government has been engaged in a massive settlement campaign and massive land theft program. It has escalated since

the beginning of the Kerry initiative. It has deliberately escalated settlement activity, confiscation of land, theft of resources. The further

transformation of the city of Jerusalem and continuing the siege and isolation of Jerusalem and bringing in settlers and so on to the -- and it

has resorted to violence.

So it doesn't need an excuse or a pretext. It has been doing it. It is unilaterally superimposing greater Israel over historical Palestine. It

is deliberately destroying the two-state solution. It is making sure that no viable territory (inaudible) Palestinian state is possible. And it uses

any excuse, any pretext to press on with the settlement activity. And I think that it is really disingenuous to say that because of the three

missing, or the three abducted and killed Yashiba (ph) students that now they have a free hand to wreck havoc in Palestinian life and to destroy

their chances of peace.

There has to be responsibility, sanity and abidance with international law and we have to end this occupation and have a just peace in order to

end all the causes of violence and instability.

ANDERSON: In the West Bank this evening, Hanan Ashwari joining you a member of the PLO executive committee and Palestinian Legislative Council.

Thank you.

Well, new Pew research just released shows, perhaps understandably, growing concern over Islamic extremism across the Middle East. A year ago,

81 percent of, for example, Lebanese surveyed said they were concerned about Islamic extremism in their country. This year, more than 90 percent

are concerned.

Turkey has seen the biggest jump. Only 37 percent said they were worried about Islamic extremism in 2013. That number jumped 13 points to

50 percent this year.

And a similar story in Egypt -- from 69 percent concern to some 75 percent of the Egyptian public concerned now.

And in Jordan, some 50 odd percent said they had concerns last year. That's now up eight points to 62 percent.

Those numbers just out.

Well, as Iraq battles Sunni militants, Jordan is not taking any chances. It's boosting its troop presence along the Iraqi border. But as

Jomana Karadsheh now show us, some say militants in Iraq are not Jordan's biggest threat.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRERSPONDENT: Tanks, helicopters, troops on alert on Jordan's border with Iraq -- beefed up

security in an effort to prevent ISIS militants from crossing the border after their recent gains in Iraq.

While officials and analysts believe Jordan should be concerned about ISIS advances, the real danger, they say, to this country and its pro-

western moderate Monarchy is the threat from within, particularly from those who feel marginalized by the country's political system and stagnant


This YouTube video is purportedly from the southern city of Maan (ph), one of Jordan's most impoverished community, known for its defiance of the

government and a hotbed of Jordan's jihadist movement.

A rare and brazen show of support for ISIS. Doesn't of demonstrators seen here raising the black flag of jihadist groups. The video posted in

late June. Their chants, in support of an Islamic state.

Jordan for years has cracked down on its homegrown jihadists, many of whom fought in Iraq and now analysts estimate hundreds have joined the

ranks of ISIS in neighboring Syria.

This man claims to be among them, flashing his Jordanian passport in a YouTube video.

"By god, we are coming to slaughter you," he threatens.

Jordan's close ties to the United States and a western kind of lifestyle in parts of its capital Amman have always made this country a

target for extremists.

But many Jordanians say their security forces are well trained, well equipped and up for the task.

YAHYA ABABNEH, AMMAN RESIDENT: I know my army, I trust in my arm. It's a strong army. But the who can stop ISIS to attack? Because they

believe if you die you go to heaven and they have big numbers. And every day many volunteers (inaudible) volunteer with ISIS.

So for me, I'm worried if they do something from inside Jordan.

KARADSHEH: A concern echoed by other Jordanians.

JAMIL HAMATI, AMMAN RESIDNET: We are all worried. But again to a certain extent. I definitely we're not immune from what's happening in the

region. So people are worried, but the current status quo as we said today which we hope that it will not change rapidly, the future we're still OK.

KARADSHEH; For now, the threat might not be imminent, but with another wave of unrest sweeping across this turbulent region, Jordanians

are increasingly worried about what the future may hold for this tiny desert Kingdom.

Jomana Karadsheh,CNN, Amman.


ANDERSON: All right.

Live from Abu Dhabi, you are watching Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.

Just ahead, it's time to get to know the UAE a little bit better. We're going to put your questions to the man behind one of the country's

most popular advice columns.

And we'll take a tour of Sharjah, exploring the hidden treasures of this year's capital of Islamic culture. That all coming up after this. Do

stay with us.


ANDERSON: We're back with us live on location opposite the Sheikh Zayed grand mosque here in the Gulf as we continue our special months of

coverage throughout the Middle East.

Well, one of the main objectives of our Live From series is to take you to the heart of the issues impacting this region. There can be few

individuals better qualified to tell us what people are talking about than Ali Alsaloom, he's a writer and UAE cultural expert who also offers tips

and advice to people about Emirati life on his website and in his newspaper column Ask Ali.

Well, I started by asking him what Ramadan means to him.


ALI ALSALOOM, ADVICE COLUMNIST: Ramadan personally to me it changed when I was a child. It was an opportunity to prove myself among the

community that I am able to fast. So it was a moment of proving yourself like you're a man, you can do it. And it was fun, because it was the only

time you're fasting -- you know, you're really hungry and thirsty but everyone else in the community is just like you. And you're always hungry

at the same time, you're also thirsty at the same time, so what do you decide and doing? Go play football outside.

And we all go play football from 3:00 p.m. all the way until it's, you know, the call to prayer to break our fast.

ANDERSON: Tell me something even locals might not know about Ramadan.

ALSALOOM: Well, they might not know that during this holy month a lot of the Muslims community, the people, take this holy month as an advantage

to reset their own clock, hour between them and god, the relationship between them and Allah.

So if you were used to, for example shake a woman hand if you were a man or if you were a woman shaking a man's hand at work every day with 200

nationalities living with you, there's a chance that the next morning you see them they will not shake your hand, because in the religion of Islam,

you know, opposite genders don't touch if they're not related, you know, like a wife or sister.

So that's something that will change.

ANDERSON: For those of our viewers who may be watching somewhere where their colleagu8es are fasting, but where there's not a majority

Muslim population what's your advice, how can they help?

ALSALOOM: If you ever wanted to, you know, invite them for dinner or breakfast or lunch, remember that the meal will be the breakfast, which is

around 6:00, 7:00 p.m. And it would be nice if you're inviting them making sure that it's the Halal food, which is a local food that they can relate

to as a Muslim. It's such a positive thing, by telling them Ramadan Karim (ph), which means, a blessed a generous Ramadan.

Finally, it will be just to remember that in this month a lot of the you know people who fast, they go through a complete different biological

hour. So I always joke about it, say like we become like bats, because we function in the evening. So do not -- you know, feel wrong or bad if you

call them at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m because that's where they are really healthy and wake up after the food and everything.

ANDERSON: But be sympathetic about their feelings and their emotions during the day.

ALSALOOM: Absolutely, 100 percent.


ANDERSON: So if you've got any questions for Ali, well you can get in touch with our local oracle. (inaudible) at Let

us know. You can always tweet me @BeckyCNN on Instagram of course, @BeckyCNN.

All this month do use the hashtag #CTWlivefrom to share your views of the places that we are visiting and the people that we are meeting. Of

course you can go straight to our Middle East oracle himself and ask him any questions you want at Ask

Keep in touch. It's a global conversation. Do join us.

2014 is a big year for the Emirate of Sharjah just up the road from here about an hour-and-a-half away. Dubai's northern neighbor has been

named the 2014 capital of Islamic culture. And it's wearing its credentials with pride.

All this month, I'll be getting secret city tours from the people who know these places that we are traveling to most.

This week, we've been finding out why Sharjah deserves its cultural crown. Have a look at this.


SULTAN AL QASSEMI: In 1998, Sharjah became the first Gulf city to be awarded the Arab capital of culture by the UNESCO. And now in 2014,

Sharjah has been awarded by UNESCO the cultural capital of the Islamic world.

ANDERSON: We're at the Sharjah Art Foundation. What's the history behind this project?

QASSEMI: Well, Sharjah Foundation is headed by (inaudible), the daughter of the ruler of Sharjah. She has bee n a force for promotion of

culture and art. and really modernizing globalizing the art in Sharjah and the UAE.

As you can see, this area has been kind of preserved very, very well. On this side you see these old cordon structures that have been used since

the 19th Century and maybe even earlier. And on the other side you see these modern (inaudible) that are really hollow from the inside and allow

you to install large installations and art projects.

Well, I'm going to be taking you now to al Hata (ph) museum, which is the airport museum and it's the oldest airport in the region. IT takes

back to 1932.

First of all, this is a unique aviation museum in the region. I don't think I've come across an aviation museum in the Middle East let alone in

the Gulf. So -- and second, this is the airport that received the first, even on the subcontinent, the first -- the airport that received the first

Arab migrants. The airport that received the expatriates, which today make up a large part of the UAE.

ANDERSON: And it's interesting, because these days the Gulf is such a hub for transport, and yet when you go back, what, 80 years this is where

it started.

QASSEMI: We are walking into a shamby (ph) house. Over here.

ANDERSON: What's a shamdy (ph) house? So I build a shamby (ph) actually it was an old merchant here in Sharjah. And you can tell this is

his house. It's a huge mansion. If you're thinking 19th Century standard, this is massive, massive, massive. Designs from Kuwait, from southern

Persia, from Yemen, from Amman, it's all really comes across here.

ANDERSON: And this today is an artist colony.

QASSEMI: Today it's an artist colony. Where is my...

So this is the studio of Mr. (inaudible). He's one of the greatest artists of his generation. So Mr. Smile (ph) is inspired by a lot of the

events in Syria and a lot of the regional events. But his wok is very -- I mean, it just speaks for itself. exhibition on the Syrian revolution about three months ago. And these art works are continuation of that series.

ANDERSON: You've exhausted me. Where are we going next?

QASSEMI: ...too late and the architecture is from the early 1990s and it includes a lot of cafes as you can see. There's art foundations here.

And restaurants (inaudible).

ANERSON: Take me back. I'm going to be (inaudible) 20 years, 25 years.

QASSEMI: Nothing. It was just sand. there was nothing built here.


ANDERSON: Secret City Sharjah. More of those to come in the months to come. Coming up tonight on Connect the World with me Becky Anderson,

two big matchups happening today in Brazil. Let's get out of our region, Shaheen -- we've got to get back to the region (inaudible). He and the

camel in on a hot streak with his predictions, but can he continue? That after this.


ANDERSON: Right, let's get you to the World Cup in Brazil. Two former champions have advanced to the quarterfinals, but not without some

stiff opposition. On Monday, France and Nigeria goalless until the 79th minute when France's Pogba drove this header home.

And in stoppage time, well, things got worse for Nigeria, I'm afraid, when they scored an own goal. Final Score France 2-0.

The other contests pitted three-time champions Germany against Algeria. Algeria playing in their first knockout round ever. And all the

goals coming in extra time. They put up a good fight. Final score Germany 2 Algeria 1.

Well, the two European giants France and Germany then facing off against each other at the Maracana on Friday. First, though , we've got

the final knockout stages can you believe it in about 10 minutes time Argentina up against Switzerland. And then later Belgium take on the USA.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joining me now live from Rio de Janeiro.

Even though the games are necessarily every night or ever day where you are, exciting times. What's the low down on tonight?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely exciting times, Becky. And one of the reasons for that is of course because

the football is so exciting. I mean, if you saw those gamers yesterday you had two teams where you expected they would go through easily in France and

Germany, but they had to put up an amazing fight to get through.

I mean, the Algerians probably played one of the best matches that that country has ever seen. So we're expecting the same to happen today.

Argentina and Switzerland are about to take the pitch. I see the two sides going on to the field. at this very moment. The national anthems will be

played very shortly. Of course, Argentina is the favorite in that game, however they've shown some weaknesses throughout the course of the


If you remember that game against Iran, for instance, where it took a last minute strike by Lionel Messi to decide that game.

Nevertheless, they are the favorites against the Swiss who also have played some very good games at this World Cup.

And then of course you have the second match, the U.S. against Belgium, which I think will probably be the most exciting of this day,

simply because those two teams are absolutely even, Becky.

ANDERSON: I don't think we should push the interview if -- yeah.

What are you thinking? Go on. I'm going to put you on the spot here. Give us some results.

PLEITGEN: Ooh, give us some results. That's a difficult one.

I think Argentina is probably going to win 2-1, maybe in extra time. And I think that the U.S. is going to win. This is the first time in all

of my predictions that I've predicted team USA to go through, but I think their fighting spirit, their speed will be too much for the Belgians to

handle. so I'm thinking the U.S. wins 2-1 also in extra time though. Look for a good football feast to happen today, but it's going to b a big fight

in all those stadiums.

ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. And we'll hold you to those. And we'll speak again this time tomorrow. Argentina, of course, taking on the Swiss

in just a few minutes time as Fred suggested.

So let us see which team Shaheen the camel picks as the winner?

And let's see it again. And again.

It looks like Shaheen sticking his neck out thinking that Argentina will advance. So far he has been on target in his predictions this week,

at least, choosing both the Netherlands and France to move onto the quarterfinals.

I seem to remember he was a little off with Mexico Croatia. But I have to take he's been pretty good most of the way through what has been,

what 20 days this football fest continues. Enjoy it. We will.

I'm off to watch the match. I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. Do stay with us throughout the week.

We'll leave you simply with this.