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CONNECT THE WORLD
U.S. President Speaks At the General Assembly; First Woman Pilot To Participate in Bomb Campaign Against ISIS; Kurds Suffering In Northern Syria; Nine Suspects Arrested in UK Terror Raid; UK Parliament to Vote on Airstrikes in Iraq; Interpol Tracking Foreign Fighters; Plight of Syrian Refugees in Turkey; Startup Revolution; Medical Coral; Robust Retail; Saving Rome's Ruins
Aired September 25, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, HOST: World leaders unite with two common enemies. We'll take you live to the United Nations general assembly as the U.S. and Iran
find something they agree on: the need to annihilate ISIS.
And politicians of all persuasions join in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus. We're awaiting a speech on this and Barack Obama that
we'll bring you live.
I'm Max Foster, this is Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi.
Iran's President took center stage at the United Nations a short while ago and slammed extremist militant groups for calling themselves Islamic.
Hassan Rouhani also lashed out at western nations, accusing them of strategic blunders that have helped create a haven for extremists to
The fight against ISIS continued in Syria on Wednesday night with another round of airstrikes by the U.S. and its Arab partners. This time,
mobile oil refineries were targeted. The Pentagon says ISIS makes up to $2 million a day in sales of oil on the black market.
And France says its jet fighters took part in the latest airstrikes in Iraq.
Let's cross now to the United Nations where the UN General Assembly is meeting for a second day. Our Richard Roth is there at the United Nations
for us. First of all, that speech on Iran or from Iran and the president there is there were some interesting messages there, which will play into
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's easy to say there were mixed messages. You always have to listen closely and make your own analysis on
what President Rouhani of Iran was referring to in various remarks.
He condemned what he saw as the U.S., or western, influences in the Middle East. We've heard that before from him and other leaders speaking
for Iran, but then there was also some willingness to cooperate on nuclear affairs and perhaps in the battle against ISIS in the region.
He did lob some accusations against western intelligence agencies for fomenting trouble in the Middle East by backing certain groups.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): Extremism is not a regional issue that only the nations of our region have to grapple
with. Extremism is a global issue. Certain states have helped in creating it and are now failing to withstand it.
Currently, our peoples are paying the price.
Today's anti-westernism is the offspring of yesterday's colonialism. Today's anti-westernism is a reaction to yesterday's racism. Certain
intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of madmen who now spare no one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: The Iranian leader making his second appearance at a UN General Assembly session said that the solution to these issues could come and
should come from the region. It is important to note that Iran is playing a key role and perhaps even further in the battle against foreign fighters
and ISIS. It has supported the Iraqi government in pushing back ISIS elements. And it may play even more, though analysts doubt there would be
a quid pro quo between Iran and western nations over the fate of Iran's nuclear program.
There's a November 24 deadline to come up with a solution for the fate of that program. Talks have continued here on the sidelines.
Meanwhile here at the UN, a major meeting on the Ebola virus is now underway. We're expecting to hear from President Obama. Leaders from West
African countries are either here personally or by video teleconference having stayed home such as Liberia's president to deal with the crisis.
The leader of the WHO organization Margaret Chan is now speaking to the conference. President Obama is trying to heighten attention to this
virus that has spread and killed over 2,500 people.
Max, back to you.
FOSTER: Richard, thank you.
We will of course be bringing you that Obama speech on Ebola, another crucial topic there at the UN, as Richard says. We'll bring that you live.
And it could happen within the hour.
While the world debates how to deal with the threat of ISIS, airstrikes targeting the group continue as does the suffering of Syrian
refugees fleeing the advance of ISIS on their villages.
Ben Wedeman is live in Irbil Iraq and Phil Black is on the Turkish- Syria border where the conditions are really deteriorating.
Let's begin with Ben, though. France joining the strikes today, Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is correct. According to French officials, there was an airstrike, a French airstrike
on a place called Tel al-Waraad (ph) which is outside 30 kilometers to the west of Kirkuk.
According to those officials, the target was a grouping of ISIS fighters near an ISIS position. This is not, however, Max, the first time
that French aircraft have been used to strike ISIS targets in Iraq. Over the weekend, they conducted several strikes on targets in Iraq as well.
Beyond that, really, what we saw we were out at -- near the front line to the west of Irbil. And we saw that Kurdish forces are running into some
trouble simply because they have to spend so much time and resources to defuse bombs, to detonate booby traps left behind by ISIS when it pulled
out of the area of Hasan Shem (ph) to the west of here.
We spoke to some Kurdish commanders, one of whom said that they desperately need more ammunition, more weaponry, more advanced weaponry
than they've received so far. They did receive recently some German anti- tank missiles. But they say they're looking for things along the lines of nightvision goggles. They even want some helicopters. But it's not clear
if they're going to get those -- Max.
FOSTER: Ben, thank you.
And the suffering of ordinary people is really being felt on the border where Phil is.
Phil, you were telling us earlier how people desperately fleeing the fighting, going to the border and then ending up in these endless queues.
Is there any relief for them?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The numbers crossing today, Max, have been a bit smaller, but they have still been steady.
We're still talking hundreds of people, mostly Kurds, mostly women and children, mostly fleeing from around the town of Kabani (ph), which is
really just to the south and to the east of where I'm standing here.
And it is where there is still clearly fighting going on. Today, only a short time ago, we were hearing heavy weapons being used in the near
distance. This is where local Kurdish fighters say they are fighting desperately to stop an advance by ISIS. They say ISIS has made
considerable gains through the southern outskirts of this town, of this mostly ethnic Kurdish region. But local fighters have slowed them down,
so, too, have ethnic Kurds from Turkey who have crossed over to join the fight.
But they say they are outgunned here, because they don't have heavy weapons and they say that ISIS does. And as I say, we've been hearing them
here this afternoon.
So what these fighters are calling for directly is for this international coalition that has been launching airstrikes at ISIS targets
across Syria and Iraq to help them here on the ground to hit those ISIS units and forces that are advancing on this town just behind me, and which
have triggered this enormous humanitarian catastrophe.
Just remember, just in the last few days we've seen in excess of 140,000 people flee this town and this immediate area here into Turkey.
And they've been coming every day since, not in that same huge mass of humanity that we saw for a few days there, but still very constant, still
enduring great hardship and suffering and still telling terrible stories of loss.
Just a short time ago, we saw two men here clearly distraught, crying, saying that they had lost their entire families in an ISIS artillery
attack, or some sort of heavy weapons fire there.
So the need here Is still very great. The authorities believe they have experienced the initial wave of refugees, but I think the fear is no
doubt that if ISIS continues to make gains and moves further into this town and this region, then we could still see anything greater humanitarian
crisis here to come, Max.
FOSTER: OK, thank you very much indeed for joining us on the border, Phil.
Now here is the UAE, authorities have confirmed that the first female fighter pilot took part in the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS
targets. UAE air force major Mariam al-Mansoori took the lead in conducting airstrike missions this week.
A few months ago, our own Becky Anderson spoke to her about what it means to defend her country.
ANDERSON: Is it more important today than ever to be involved in defending your country, do you think???
MANSOORI: Yes, for sure. We are in a hot area. So that -- we have to prepare every citizen in this country to be ready to defend UAE. So female
??or male, it does not matter as long as we are defending our country.??
FOSTER: And the time did come for her, didn't it?
Well, Major al-Mansoori has wanted to be a top gun since she was a teen. She joined the UAE air force as soon as women were allowed in.
Still to come this hour, more evidence that concerns about terror aren't limited to the Middle East. London police arrest nine men on
suspicion of terror offenses, reportedly including this cleric Anjem Choudary.
We're live to London with the details.
The arrest come just one day after this radical cleric, Abu Qatada was acquitted of terror charges in Jordan. We'll take you to the capital
there, Amman, for more on that story as well.
FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Max Foster. Welcome back to you.
The U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UAE carried out another round of airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria on Wednesday night. There were
specifically targeting small mobile oil refineries, a key source of funding for the militants. Karl Penhaul joins me now from Amman with more details.
And they're trying to go for the pocket of ISIS, aren't they?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in some sense, Max. But you've really got to comb through what the Pentagon is actually
talking about here. They were talking about destroying 12 mobile refineries. And really that is pretty small fry when it comes to either
oil refining or ISIS funding, even by the Pentagon's own admission.
In one of the statements it had put out it said that those refineries, or what it called refineries, were responsible for no more than 300 to 500
barrels of production a day.
Now talking to oil experts, in the course of the day they say that is almost certainly not going into ISIS pockets. That kind of oil production
is really for local production to put in the gas tanks of vehicles and also to power generators and that kind of stuff and even is nowhere near close
to enough even for local consumption.
So that really isn't the main export or financial arm of ISIS. Oil experts say that if Pentagon really wants to go after that, then they have
to stop bombing oil fields, which may be environmentally unsound of course, or bombing the convoys of tanker trucks that are taking that fuel up to
areas where it is sold into the black markets. So really not that clear that this was a blow at ISIS's pocket. Perhaps more of a symbolic blow,
FOSTER: I want to also ask you, Karl, take this opportunity to speak to you about some of the more complex backlashes, if you like, around all
of this. I know -- I'm going to leave it there. We're actually going to cross to New York, I'm sorry, Karl, because President Obama is addressing
Ebola at the United Nations.
(COVERAGE OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S ADDRESS AT THE UNITED NATIONS)
FOSTER: President Obama talking Ebola, very concerning, at the UN security council, the sidelines of a UN General Assembly, rather, the
sidelines of it.
Let's bring you up to speak though with the latest on the outbreak. We've got some numbers for you, because according to the most recent
figures from the World Health Organization almost 3,000 people have died and the virus is still spreading. Most of the reported deaths are from
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which appears to be most at risk.
In the past few months, there's been an increase in the number of confirmed cases in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown and the neighboring
districts as well -- Port Loko, Bombali and Moyama.
Those three districts have now been quarantined, in fact. So let's go to Michelle Kosinski. She's at the White House.
And the message he started off on, Michelle, was this message that this is a major problem, obviously, for West Africa, but also the world
he's trying to drive the message home that this is a major problem or the planet.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. For a global security, also he framed this about a week ago as a national
security threat as well, a national security priority.
Just because this has risks of obviously spreading, but also causing humanitarian crises within the regions where it's affecting people.
I mean, right now it is limited to those countries in Africa. But, yeah, when you look at the numbers and just in the last few weeks we've
heard from World Health professionals saying that the rate of infection -- and this is known infection, not even including the cases that have not
been officially reported, but it's been doubling about every three weeks.
And when you extrapolate that out to, say, January -- you know they just announced this week that they could be looking at between half a
million and 1.4 million cases by the start of next year. I mean, that's extraordinary.
And when you listen to hearings that have been held here in the United States with some of these top CDC and World Health Organization people who
are looking at this problem and have been dealing with it for months, you really get a better sense of how unusual this is, how quickly it spread,
how difficult it is to contain even when you compare it to prior Ebola outbreaks.
So President Obama, yeah, he wants to make this appear and wants everyone to know that this is a problem that doesn't just affect that one
area right now.
It's kind of a familiar tone that we've heard. I mean, yesterday we were talking about the threat of terrorism and ISIS telling the world we
can't do this alone, we need everybody to act with urgency. And today he's saying essentially the same to the nation, to the world, about Ebola, Max.
FOSTER: Michelle, thank you very much indeed for that.
Next here on Connect the World, the latest world news headlines.
Plus, we'll go live to London for more details on why this controversial cleric is reportedly being questioned by British police.
FOSTER: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour. Speaking at the UN General Assembly today, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
condemned what he called "strategic blunders" by the West, which created, he says, fertile ground for Islamic extremists in the region. He also
slammed militant groups for calling themselves Islamic.
The Pentagon says it believes the US-led airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria were successful. Rear Admiral John Kirby says several mobile oil
refineries were hit as well as an ISIS vehicle, but they are still trying to assess fully the damage. Admiral Kirby explained why the US is
targeting the oil refineries operated by ISIS.
US president Barack Obama has called for a strong and coordinated international response to the Ebola outbreak, which he describes as a
growing threat to regional and global security. He was speaking at a special meeting on Ebola taking place on the sidelines of the UN General
British police have arrested nine men suspected of terrorism offenses. Officials say they're searching 19 homes, business, and community buildings
in London and Stoke-on-Trent in the English midlands. They're also saying the arrests are not in response to any immediate public safety risk.
The UK Press Association says among those arrested is a radical British cleric who just last month told CNN he believes ISIS will spread to
Europe and the US within decades. Atika Shubert is live in London where all nine suspects are being held. And you have to ask the question, Atika,
if these arrests are linked to what's going on in relation to ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we can say for certain is that this is part of the crackdown on countering that
extremism here at home, certainly. And there's been, obviously, concern that there could be a heightened risk of terrorism. In fact, the terror
alert has gone up, now, to the point of "Severe," which means that a terror attack is likely but not imminent.
Now, in terms of these specific arrests, we know nine people were arrested, and it does appear, according to British media, that Anjem
Choudary is one of those arrested. And of course, you know very well who he is. We've seen him on CNN, on BBC, on a number of other media outlets.
He's a very public extremist figure.
And just a few weeks ago, he was on the streets of London handing out leaflets in support of ISIS, waving the black flag of ISIS and the Islamic
caliphate here. So, this is somebody who's very much a public figure.
And it looks like he was arrested not because of an imminent threat, as you pointed out, but because of his support or because he was part of an
organization that has been banned, a banned extremist organization.
Now, they have not named this organization, and we're still waiting for more details. The big question, of course, is if he will be charged
and what he will be charged with, Max.
FOSTER: And what do we understand about the police's wider response to this very real concern, now, that jihadis are returning from this region
to where you are?
SHUBERT: There is a real concern. There are about 500 militants that have traveled from Britain to Syria and Iraq to fight, and about half of
them have actually already returned. Many of them have come through and already been questioned by police. There's even a trial, for example, of
one man who has returned.
But the big question now is what to do with many of these returnees. And what we are seeing from the police is that there has certainly been an
increase in the amount of arrests, of raids of anybody suspected of involvement with ISIS or with extremist views.
And it's more likely that we are going to see even more of these arrests and keeping the pressure on these extremist groups. So far,
however, we have seen no indications of an imminent threat.
FOSTER: We've learned that the British parliament tomorrow will discuss and probably get -- probably approve airstrikes against Iraq. And
that is something that is obviously a big talking point within the UK. Is there a concern that the more involved the UK military gets in the crisis
here, that there will be a backlash in the UK? Is that a general concern in Europe?
SHUBERT: I think that is a concern. However, clearly for the British government, they feel that ISIS is much more of a risk, and it needs to be
challenged head on. And this is why they are taking it to Parliament tomorrow to vote on UK airstrikes in Iraq.
And I think the clear distinction here is airstrikes in Iraq, not in Syria. That's very important to note. There is that concern that there
could be a backlash. And in fact, there is a demonstration today against the ongoing strikes already by the coalition in the region. So, we'll have
to see what a public reaction will be, but that vote is going ahead tomorrow, Max.
FOSTER: Atika, thank you very much, indeed. Well, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on Wednesday aimed at stopping the
flow of money and foreign fighters to ISIS. It comes as Interpol improves the way it shares information about foreign fighters who've traveled to
fight in Iraq and Syria. Deborah Feyerick has the details on that.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across the nation, it is one of the top security concerns: foreign fighters currently
in Syria and Iraq returning home to America to launch a lone wolf attack.
JOHN KERRY, US SECRETARY OF STATE: The minds of these young men and women are poisoned by terrorists who brainwash them into committing
FEYERICK: Interpol enhancing its multinational databases to help Border Control agents around the world better identify terrorists and more
effectively share that information globally.
JOHN CARLIN, US ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: I'm working very closely with Interpol in order to prioritize the information
that they keep on foreign terrorist fighters.
FEYERICK: The Interpol alert system can help countries identify suspected terrorists quickly and get the data to other officials. Red
notices, or "Wanted," identify terrorists for arrest and prosecution in US courts. Blue notices, or "Be on the Lookout" flag possible terror
suspects. And green notices alert authorities to hundreds of foreign nationals who have been to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
CARLIN: And you need to be able to identify them working with our partners before they come back and cause harm.
FEYERICK: During the UN General Assembly this week, America's top national security prosecutor, John Carlin, has been mounting a full press
with 30 global counterparts to use the Interpol system to shut down foreign fighters.
FEYERICK (on camera): How do you think this will help stem the flow?
CARLIN: One of the most critical aspects to stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters is making sure that each country, and they
gather information about who these individuals are, has a mechanism for sharing it and sharing it quickly.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Countries, including Turkey, Canada, and the US, will continue to have access to Interpol data and biometrics to
identify and stop jihadi fighters before it's too late.
FEYERICK (on camera): Another tool the US is using to fight potential terrorists is prosecution, and national security officials are trying to
persuade partner nations to pass laws that aggressively prosecute wannabe jihadis before they ever step foot outside their home country.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
FOSTER: We were just speaking to Atika about that parliamentary debate tomorrow in the UK about whether or not to support airstrikes in
Iraq. Downing Street have just issued the motion, in fact, the specific motion that will be put to Parliament, and it makes it very clear that this
doesn't involve airstrikes in Syria. And it doesn't include ground troops, either, in Iraq.
And it talks about supporting the government, working with allies in support of the government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its
territorial integrity, including the us of UK airstrikes supporting Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces' efforts against ISIL in Iraq.
So, nothing surprising there, and it seems like they have all party support in the UK to go ahead with airstrikes specifically in Iraq,
Meanwhile, the refugee crisis created by ISIS, unprecedented in its scope, is only growing. About 1.5 million Syrians have taken refuge in
Turkey, tens of thousands of them in recent weeks. Phil Black reports now on their treacherous journey to escape the violence.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People who have lost almost everything are lashed by the wind and dust.
BLACK: It is a brutal end to a journey that has taken them from their homes, possibly forever.
BLACK (on camera): The people have suffered so much. This land is unforgiving. When the dust and the wind blows, it is impossible to
breathe. Take your glasses off, it is very difficult to see. And this is what these people have been experiencing for more than a week in some
cases. But these are the lucky ones, who now have safety and security from ISIS.
BLACK (voice-over): When the dust storm lifts, it reveals the exhausted, scared faces of some of the latest Syrians trying to escape
violence by fleeing to Turkey. When they're allowed to cross the border, they're searched, fed, even watered.
BLACK: Children are immunized. This tent is filled with the noise of children's fear and pain. But they're here because of their parents' fear
of ISIS. Ten-year-old Ibrahim explains simply, "ISIS is now in our village. They attacked us, and we came here," he says.
"Tanks, heavy machine guns, and mortars," this woman says, "they destroyed everything. We have only our children now."
As ISIS fighters advance through ethnic Kurdish communities in northern Syria, their reputation for brutality triggered an exodus. People
fled, carrying what they could, tramping through the baking landscape to wait their turn at the border.
In just a few days, about 140,000 desperate, hungry refugees enter Turkey. This in a country that is already sheltering around 1.5 million
Syrians from their country's civil war. The UN High Commission for Refugees says the burden is not being shared.
SELIN UNAL, UNHCR: We are doing as much as we can, but obviously, it's not enough. We are not getting enough support from the international
BLACK: These people say international efforts to destroy ISIS with airstrikes have not halted the militants' advance so far. These are now
people without hope. Fifty-five-year-old Habish (ph) scoffs at the suggestion it could be otherwise. He says, "You only have to look to see,
they have no future."
Phil Black, CNN, on the Turkey-Syria border.
FOSTER: I'm Max Foster, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you very much, indeed, for watching. MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST is next for you.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, HOST: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, we're used to admiring coral in the blue sea waters, but now they are being grown
in a lab in the sandy desert. We'll explore how one man is turning coral into a financial commodity.
And Saudi Arabia potentially saving Italian cultural landmarks? I speak to the mayor of Rome about the country's unlikely patron of the arts.
Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. Despite all the political and economic uncertainty brought on by the Arab Spring, now nearly four years
ago, we're starting to see a new generation of both innovation and invention.
Startup industries are now shaping the future of business in the region, and here in the UAE, over 90 percent of all companies are
classified as small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, contributing around 60 percent of the overall GDP.
And the UAE is not the only place, of course, we're seeing this entrepreneurial activity. Israel leads the way, with the most startups per
capita of anywhere in the world, including one company growing coral in the desert for medical purposes. Ian Lee has the story.
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To say Assaf Shaham is not your typical farmer would be an understatement. That's
because he grows this: coral, as in coral reef.
The father of two started this experiment six years and over $2.5 million ago. His company's called OK Coral, pun intended. As far as he
knows, his operation is one of a kind, a job for someone truly passionate, borderline obsessive.
ASSAF SHAHAM, CORAL FARMER: In six years I'm growing corals, I haven't left these four walls for more than 12 hours, not even once.
LEE: Commitment for a system that needs constant care to make sure the salinity, temperature, and chemical makeup of the water remain perfect.
Any drastic variations, and it call could die. As a result, it grows ten times faster than normal coral. Things he didn't learn in a school.
SHAHAM: A hundred percent is me learning on the fly. I think there are mother colony or colony, I had a branch of the coral, the demersal,
strong. And once I do, I glue it on a base that I make out of cement.
LEE (on camera): These fish really are the workforce of this coral farm. They eat the algae that grow on the coral, their feces helps feed
the coral. Their movements in the water keep the coral strong, and like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, if they die, you know something's
LEE (voice-over): But when his farm isn't anywhere near the sea but smack-dab in the middle of Israel's Negev Desert, solar power helps offset
his energy costs, but he still shells out roughly $4,000 a month.
So, why is Shaham working so hard? It's to produce this: bone grafting material used for everything from dental implants to spinal
procedures. It's essentially scaffolding for new bone growth, a product of Ohad Schwartz and Itzhak Binderman from the company CoreBone. They say
coral is superior because it can't be rejected by the body like animal and human bones can possibly be.
OHAD SCHWARTZ, CEO, COREBONE: Which grows bone fast, safe, and strong, and it also enables re-absorption.
LEE: The partners started the company, CoreBone, a couple years ago. And because they get their material from OK Coral, their coral is free of
disease that's often found on oceanic coral. This small container costs roughly $5 to $10 to produce, but sells for around $250. A small part of a
worldwide billion-dollar bone grafting industry.
The company is currently waiting for approval for use in the European Union and United States, but it's expected within the next year. One of
the key components of their approach is sustainability, both financial and environmental.
SCHWARTZ: And we have a constant supply. Don't have to worry that within several years, I would say, trading or harvesting corals from the
sea will be forbidden.
LEE: No worries when coral is blooming in the desert.
Ian Lee, CNN, Negev, Israel.
DEFTERIOS: From coral to catwalks and couture. As Milan wraps up the Fashion Week, we travel to Italy to meet the CEO of fashion group Tod's and
trying to tap the growth of the Middle East.
DEFTERIOS: From Burberry to Gucci, Dior to Louis Vuitton, big name fashion brands are not unusual here in the Middle East. And no wonder, the
UAE retail market is expected to expand some 30 percent over the next year. That's why the Italian fashion brand Tod's is making the broader Middle
East a priority.
DIEGO DELLA VALLE, OWNER, TOD'S: This is a close process.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Diego Della Valle elaborates on the unique process of shoe-making at his headquarters in Italy. But Della Valle is no
ordinary cobbler. He's the man behind Tod's. A family-run business founded nearly a century ago, the luxury Italian brand is synonymous with
Italian chic and has exported that style worldwide from Singapore to Switzerland.
Tod's opened its first boutique in the Middle East in Beirut in 2001. Today, they have 20 stores located throughout the region, and hope to
extend that even further, especially here in the UAE.
DELLA VALLE: It's true, it's now a good market in growing every day. The potential expansion and (inaudible) is fantastic. I visit one or two
times a year. There is an energy credible.
For me, now, we want to have a very perfect balance between Europe, Asia, Middle East, and North and South America, North America especially.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): You have the new carriers in the Middle East, the airlines. So, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways. You need exposure
where they're going in terms of the new emerging markets. So, these Middle East carriers are important to a Tod's brand?
DELLA VALLE: Sure. Well, yes, yes. We have real good news about the Middle East airlines company that our Alitalia tried to do in a big
agreement. I think this is an area will come. We support that. And I think it's a good opportunity for us to put one stone for the next new
This is a good example that big investors like the Abu Dhabi peoples, (inaudible) peoples, want to invest in Italy. This is a big sign for us.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): And that sign of confidence is crucial. Since the financial crisis hit five years ago, Italy has struggled with
bureaucracy, a lack of investment, and providing jobs.
But another Italian commodity has also come under threat: Rome's ancient heritage. Landmarks like the Coliseum are quickly becoming too
expensive to maintain. According to site manager Rossella Rea, the Coliseum brings in nearly $50 million a year.
But most of the money goes to paying for less-visited treasures, treasures that according to the city's mayor, cost the capital millions of
dollars to maintain. This is where Della Valle steps in, spending $34 million on a five-year scrubbing of the travertine marble front of the
DELLA VALLE: What we need to do in front of us, in this case one of the most important things, I think, is the tourist project. If you want,
we call the Made in Italy projects.
DEFTERIOS: And Tod's is not the only one. Bulgari is putting $2 million into the Spanish steps right near their flagship store on Via
Condotti. And fashion house Fendi has ponied up nearly $3 million into the equally-famous Trevi Fountain.
DEFTERIOS: And it doesn't stop with the Italian fashion houses. In a bid to save Rome's monuments, the city's mayor ventured to Saudi Arabia.
The goal is an ambitious one: to find patrons for some of its famous ancient landmarks.
IGNAZIO MARINO, MAYOR OF ROME: Well, I had long meetings and discussions with members of the royal family, particularly with the Prince
Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz. He shares the idea that all these are a heritage that should be preserved with the monetary resources of many
people from all over the world.
And we are in the process of signing an agreement, a long-lasting agreement, and he will be able to invest money to help us.
DEFTERIOS: What's the responsibility of the city. There was a billion-dollar deficit in 2013. The cost of government is extremely high.
What do you need to do as the mayor, here, to send a signal that you're open for business, open for investment, and actually business-friendly?
MARINO: I don't really think that this could be the responsibility from the monetary point of view only of the people living in Rome. These
to me belongs to the entire mankind, and I believe that the entire mankind has a responsibility.
DEFTERIOS: Is there an awareness now that heritage is the national resource -- you can make a comparison to, say, Saudi Arabia, which has vast
energy reserves -- this in a sense is the precious resources of Italy?
MARINO: This is our oil. We need to invest into it, and we need to call all the people from all over the world, helping us because it's not
the interest of Rome, it's the interest of the entire humankind.
DEFTERIOS: Rome's mayor, Ignazio Marino, speaking to me from the terrace above the Eternal City.
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And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. I'm John Defterios, thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.