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Village Burned, 185 Women, Children Kidnapped In Northern Nigeria; Vladimir Putin Stresses Economy In Year-end News Conference; Sony Pictures Will not Release The Interview; Look Inside Pakistani School Attacked By Taliban; Putin Says US Actions Threaten Russian Interests; Oil Key Factor in Russia's Ailing Economy; Parting Shots: Living Life to the Fullest; Mobile Middle East; Turkish Tech; Chinese Consumers; Fortnum & Mason Going Global

Aired December 18, 2014 - 11:00   ET


HALA GORANI, HOST: Fighting back, Vladimir Putin vows to weather Russia's economic storm and accuses the west of undermining his

country's national interests.

This hour, we'll examine what the Russian president said, how the world is reacting and what Mr. Putin does next.

Also ahead, eerie silence at the scene of a massacre. We'll take you inside the school where 148 innocent Pakistanis lost their lives at the

hands of the Taliban.

And it was the comedy about the fictional killing of Kim Jong un that was meant to have Sony laughing all the way to the bank, instead its the

movie's cinematic release that has bitten the dust.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

GORANI: Looking confident, cracking jokes, Vladimir Putin didn't look like a leader whose country is battling multiple crises.

The president used his annual news conference -- and it was a long one, three-and-a-half hours -- he used it to reassure Russians about the

economy and to point the finger at the United States over Ukraine.

There were moments of levity during the news conference, but the message was series, if somewhat unsurprising. A strong Russia was the theme of

the day. Mr. Putin insisted the country will weather its current currency crisis and even emerge stronger. He blamed the turmoil not on

Russian governance but on external factors. And he deflected questions on Ukraine by criticizing what he says are western double standards,

saying Russia had an absolute right to protect its national interests.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Are we the ones moving troops towards the U.S. or other state's borders? Who moves

NATO bases and military infrastructure towards us, not us. Does anyone listen to us? Is anyone having some kind of a dialogue with us on that?

No. Nobody. We always get the same answer, this is none of your business. Every country has the right to choose how to ensure its


OK, in that case, we will do the same. Why are we forbidden from doing that?


GORANI: Jill Dougherty is a public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center and with CNN's Moscow bureau chief for many

years. She was at the marathon news conference earlier and joins me now from Moscow.

The length of it, by the way, not unusual, Jill, but what stood out to you this year because here we have a situation with Ukraine, of course,

in the news for several months, the annexation of Crimea and now this big currency crisis.

JILL DOUGHERTY, WILDROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: Yeah, I think, Hala, definitely it was the body language and what he said. Because

after all, think of -- you know, it couldn't have been a worse time to have a news conference. You've got the ruble sliding, economic

problems, Ukraine still going, new sanctions almost as he spoke coming from the U.S. and from the Europeans.

So it wasn't exactly a propitious time. But you wouldn't know that from what President Putin looked like or from what he said. He would not use

once the word crisis. No C-word for him. And even said in two years or less they can overcome this economic -- these problems that he says are

caused by outside forces.

He also did a lot of riffs on the Cold War. Some of this he said before. But it was really -- he went on for several minutes with that

metaphor about the Russian Bear and that they want us to kind of sit quietly in the forest and eat our little berries. But they want to

defang us, declaw us. And it was really kind of dramatic, but basically he's blaming the post-Cold War situation and potentially new Cold War on

the west.

GORANI: And you're right there in Moscow. And I don't think anyone, by the way, was expecting Vladimir Putin to admit that he'd made any kind

of mistake over Ukraine or admit that he wouldn't be able to manage the currency crisis.

But the question is going to have to be at some point if Russians suffer economically enough, at what stage will Vladimir Putin's popularity

begin to suffer, because he's still very popular.

DOUGHERTY: Well, he is. And in fact it was a very interesting question. One person said, you know, what about the people who are

close to you, could there be a palace coup? And he said, no, we can't have a coup, because we don't have any palaces, which of course is not

exactly correct. I've seen many of them, things that I would call kind of palaces outside of Moscow.

But in any case, he kind of made light of that.

But there were some interesting questions that really gave I think President Putin a run for his money. One was -- a reporter said how

much -- what's the salary for Igor Sechin who is the head of Rosneft, the big oil company. President said he didn't know.

So there was some things that kind of, you know, bit hard.

But he was very cool, calm and collected. I'd have to say it was I guess in theatrical terms a masterful performance. But it's very hard

to say, you know, how the economic situation right now, which has kind of sprung up with the ruble collapsing just in the past few days, how

that is really going to affect people economically, with jobs, et cetera.

GORANI: All right, well Russia companies owe hundreds of billions of dollars to western banks. This is a global story. Thanks very much

Jill Dougherty in Moscow. Always a pleasure talking to you, Jill.

We'll have a lot more on this story throughout the show as Mr. Putin's popularity ratings remain sky high, the envy of western leaders, it has

to be said, we ask a journalist from opposition channel television why the president's public persona appeals to so many Russians.

We'll also have the view from Washington on those accusations that American actions are threatening Russia's national interests and Mr.

Putin is pledging growth, but plunging oil prices could stall the Russian recovery.

And it's not just Russia that stand to lose. We'll have all of that in a little bit. So stay tuned.

Eight months after the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram shocked the world when it abducted more than 200 school girls, we are getting

reports that it is happening again. Local officials say Boko Haram insurgents stormed a village just north of Chibok and kidnapped 185

women and children on Sunday.

The Nigerian government has been trying to find the girls abducted back in April. Boko Haram has said they sold many of the girls into slavery.

It has taken four days for news of the latest attack to get out.

Nima Elbagir has reported on Boko Haram extensively. And she joins me now in London.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a Nigerian government spokesperson telling me don't worry, we have a deal, those Chibok girls are going to

be out in a matter of days, don't worry. Not only are they not out, but almost 200 have been abducted yet again.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Boko Haram is proving yet again that they have complete control of quite a vast swathe

of that area. One of the reasons it was so difficult to get any information out is because this wasn't even their first attack. There

was an attack on Chibok itself on the fourth of December. They then moved this village 20 kilometers outside of Chibok on the 14th of

December. So they were able to have two separate attacks, whole territory, abduct these girls, move out. And again nobody is standing

in their way.

GORANI: Is the Nigerian government completely incapable of confronting the Boko Haram threat in northern Nigerian, because it appears so from

the outside looking in.

ELBAGIR: Well, we keep asking them that. And they keep saying we're surging, we're pushing back and you do see some movement towards the

Boko Haram front lines, but then you see horrifying attacks like this going unchecked.

GORANI: So, 185 women and children. Do we know anyting about where they are?


GORANI: Or their fates.

ELBAGIR: We know as little as we do eight months on about the girls who were abducted from Chibok earlier this year. And what we're seeing

actually, incredibly worryingly, is now they're starting to hit out at the Muslim communities who are daring to attempt to protect these

Christian minority areas in their midst.

One of those killed in this attack was the chief imam in the village of Gunsuri.

GORANI: All right, thanks very much. Nima Elbagir following that story. And we'll see you a little bit later as well on the World Right

Now right here in London.

All right, let's turn our attention now to that Sony hack attack. It's believed North Korean hackers are behind the massive data breach at Sony

Pictures. And now a defector is making stunning new claims about Pyongyang's cyber activities. Jong Se-yul once worked as a computer

expert for the North Korean government, told CNN that Pyongyang has a vast network of hackers around the world to protect the country's


This development follows Sony's decision on Wednesday to cancel next week's planned release of this film, the comedy The Interview, which has

angered Pyongyang. And U.S. investigators also say that an announcement blaming Pyongyang for the security breach could come later today.

CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter has been following developments for us and joins me now from New York with the latest.

I've been very interested in following the reaction from inside the U.S. about Sony Pictures' decision not to release The Interview, the film,

and some people are saying this is basically giving in to the terrorists, Brian.

STELTER: There's a whole lot of anger about this. And I understand why. You know, if feels a lot like capitulation even if these theater

owners and Sony felt they had no other choice. You know, what I've heard from big theater owners was that they were under tremendous

pressure here. They were afraid that Americans will be afraid not to go to the movies at all over Christmas. And so as all of those theater

owners decided to pull this movie, then Sony decided to cancel it altogether.

But reactions in Hollywood have been fierce. You know, we have hard screenwriters, actors, directors all say that this feels unAmerican,

this feels disgraceful to be essentially giving in to these demands from anonymous hackers.

GORANI: So, what happens next? We don't. This isn't even being released in a digital form, right. So you can't even just rent this

online. I mean, this is an extreme response I mean no matter how you look at it.

STELTER: And people are concerned it sets a very troubling precedent, that these situations can now happen in the future, that others -- you

know, other -- you know, maybe other hackers, maybe extremists of some other stripes will be empowered by this.

I just saw an interesting tweet from Stephen King, if you don't mind if I read it. He says, "I expect The Interview to turn up somewhere

online, because dig it you can knock the rock, but you can't stop the rock."

I think it's interesting to think about this. You know, Sony has said they're not going to release the film online, but some of Sony's other

films have leaked online illegally. Maybe The Interview will too. I don't know. But I have a feeling some way, some how we are going to see

this movie some day even if Sony doesn't want us to.

GORANI: All right, Brian Stelter, thanks very much for joining us from New York. We'll be speaking to you throughout the day with more on this


Still to come this hour, we'll take you inside the school in Pakistan where more than 100 students were massacred by the Taliban. A live

report coming up.

And the man behind the microphones, we examine Putin's personal brand of power. What is behind his popularity? Russian journalist and

television presenter Mikhail Fishman give me his take.


GORANI: Let's stay with our top story: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his annual news conference. Three hours and 53 questions and a lot

of familiar rhetoric, including Mr. Putin reiterating that the west is wrong on Ukraine. Russian polls showed that Putin's popularity has

soared since the annexation in March and his continued bullishness despite western sanctions is going down a well at home.

Let's get more from Mikhail Fishman, a journalist and TV presenter with online independent station TV Rain in Moscow. Thanks for being with us.

What was your biggest takeaway today, Mikhail?

MIKHAIL FISHMAN, TV RAIN: Well, I would say that politically speaking response of Mr. Putin was quite clear to the financial crisis that we

just started to have. He basically has three options. The first is to get everything back, to withdraw from Ukraine, to re-establish trust in

the institutions, to reinstall losses to get back free elections, et cetera, et cetera and eventually leave. That's the first option that he


The second is to go forward and to start looking for scapegoats, for -- start looking for, I don't know, printing money and go for extreme and

very dangerous measures. That's his second option.

His third option is do nothing. And that was his response. He just plainly speaking, I'm quoting, he said that. We're going to wait until

the price of oil will get back to its high levels and the economy...

GORANI: Mikhail, if I can jump in, that's a dangerous bet, because it is likely that the price of oil will not go back up as high as Russia

needs it to go. There is a real risk here also that Russian companies that owe money to Western banks will not be able to repay those debts

because the ruble has become so weak.

So he's playing a little bit with fire right now, is he not?

FISHMAN: Absolutely. You're absolutely right.

What we -- the financial crisis we met today is because of (inaudible) have to repay their external debts and they will need, again, the

situation next later next year. And then he will -- we will all get into the situation again.

But again, as he doesn't look for the first option, and he clearly doesn't -- will not go for leaving the scene and reestablishing trust in

Russian economy, he's got only two alternatives -- wait and do nothing, or going with the extreme and I would say Soviet like measures. And he

-- now he's choosing the first path.

He will be -- might be forced to choose the second one.

GORANI: All right, Mikhail Fishman, thanks so much for joining us live from Moscow with your analysis on Mr. Putin's annual news conference.

Extraordinary times for Russia right now. We'll have a lot more on this story coming up.

We will have Russia's struggling economy as our main focus. Who is to blame? You can guess who President Putin says is responsible.

Also, another push for peace in the Middle East. We'll have the details of a Jordanian resolution submitted to the United Nations.


GORANI: The general court of the European Union has removed Hamas from the EU list of terrorist organization. It follows an appeal by Hamas

contesting its inclusion on the list. The EU found that claims leading to the initial decision to include Hamas have not been sufficiently


The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unsurprisingly, condemned the ruling.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Today we witnessed staggering examples of European hypocrisy. In Geneva, they call for the

investigation of Israel for war crimes while in Luxembourg, the European court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations, Hamas that

has committed countless war crimes and countless terror acts. It seems that too many in Europe on whose soil 6 million Jews were slaughtered,

have learned nothing.


GORANI: An unhappy Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister is demanding the EU put Hamas back on the terror list immediately. This

comes as Jordan submits a Palestinian drafted resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling for Israel to withdraw from the

Palestinian territories by the end of 2017.

Ian Lee has more from Jerusalem

What's in this plan, then, Ian? And is there any hope that it might get anywhere?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, this is quite an ambitious draft resolution that they're putting forward. What we would

see as essentially a two-state solution by 2017 where you would have a sovereign Palestinian state next to Israel and where Israeli forces

would withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory.

Take a listen to what Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had to say.


MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): Assures the two-state solution, which should be on the 1967 borders and

Jerusalem as a capital for two states with East Jerusalem as a capital for the state of Palestine, reach an agreement for the Palestinian

refugee's case according to the Arab Peace Initiative, and the 194 decision, stop all the settlement activities and security preparations

that allow the presence of a third international party.


LEE: Well, Hala, the Israeli reaction has been quite broad from calling this a gimmick to the steps towards war.

Now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that they weren't going to be threatened by this. Really, there are two outcomes. One,

that this draft resolution is passed, but the more likely one is that the United States would veto this.

Now the U.S. hasn't indicated which way they'll vote. But they rarely depart from the Israeli stance.

Now the Palestinians say they're going to try to work with the United States to get this passed, but they say if it doesn't that they're going

to go from the political arena to the legal arena and gain -- try to gain membership in every international body that they can, including the

International Criminal Court where the Palestinians say they're going to try to hold Israel accountable -- Hala.

GORANI: And what about the conversation that happened between John Kerry, the American secretary of state, and the Israeli Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome. Is there any progress on any level regarding the resumption of talks at this stage?

LEE: Well, there is a very big push to get talks going as we've seen over the past couple of months. There has been an increase in attacks

and violence here in Jerusalem. And there's a lot of hope, both from the United States and Europe to get these talks going, to get some sort

of settlement or to try to get some progress going as to try to hold off any more violence and try to bring this finally to some sort of


GORANI: Ian Lee in Jerusalem, thanks very much.

The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, we'll return to the Pakistani school attacked by Taliban militants and hear some of the

heartwrenching stories of those who survived the massacre.


GORANI: A look at your headlines.

Local officials in northeastern Nigeria say Boko Haram militants stormed a village just north of Chibok setting it on fire and kidnapping 185

women and children. It happened on Sunday. Word is just getting out. They also say 32 people were killed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fielded a range of questions during his annual end of the year news conference today. He blamed external

factors like falling oil prices and western sanctions for the ruble's slide and said Russia would emerge from the crisis stronger. He also

blamed the U.S. for the crisis in Ukraine, saying its actions were a threat to Russia.

Let's take a look at Wall Street now where the Dow has started the day on a high note. It's a triple digit rise, 222 points higher. We are at

17,579. This follows the fed announcement Wednesday that it will keep low interest rates where they are for, quote, a considerable time, so at

least a bit longer than some analysts were expecting.

Speculation that North Korea is behind the data breach at Sony has increased after a defector told CNN that Pyongyang has a vast network of

hackers that protect the country's interests. U.S. authorities may make an announcement pinning the blame on Pyongyang later today.

Hundreds of people gathered in Washington Wednesday night to remember the victims of the Pakistan school massacre. Pakistani-Americans and

foreign exchange students organized the event. 148 people, mostly children, were slaughtered in Peshawar by Taliban militants.

Journalists are now getting access to the school where so many lives were lost. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has

been there and joins us from Islamabad.

Tell us what you were able to see, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, it's -- it's a haunting experience to go inside the school. We're beginning to

see police forensic teams go inside -- go in there now. Obviously, they have a huge task on their hands. The scale, the scope of everything

that they have to clean up and document inside there is massive. But as we walked through, we followed the steps of the Taliban as they came in.


ROBERTSON: This is where the Taliban got into the school. They cut the barbed wire at the top of the wall, scaled it using bamboo ladders.

Another team got in just down here. And then, they took off towards the main buildings.

They burst into here, the main auditorium. They split into two teams. It was full of children here taking classes. So many of the children

afraid, trying to hide underneath these benches. The class was going on. A brigadier was giving a lesson in first aid. The dummy, the

apparatus, left where he fell.

SADEEL AHMED, SURVIVOR (through translator): They shot me as soon as they came in. We tried to run. I was shot in my shoulder. The people

who came, they had no sense of humanity in them. They killed little children. Muslims would not do this.

ROBERTSON: And this is when things get really bad. The army says that the children fled for the door over here and the door here. A hundred

of them were gunned down as they were trying to escape. Cold-blooded murder.

Everywhere you walk here, blood splatters are all over the ground. The Taliban, not satisfied with their killing downstairs, come up here to

the computer lab. And one look inside this room and you can see immediately what's happened. Children gunned down while they're just

typing at their computers.

Classroom after classroom. A pair of glasses sitting here, child's pencils and pens lying on the floor, torn. Piece of schoolwork. This

child has just been writing in his lessons. And here on the board, where the teacher would have been standing, bullet holes. And then the

place where the teacher fell.

And this is where the final showdown took place, the administration block. One of the attackers blowing up his suicide vest here. Shrapnel

marks the wall, little pockmarks from all the ball bearings inside his suicide vest. And over here, rubble on the floor. Another suicide

bomber has blown himself up.

Chaos, devastation. The principal's office down here. She's killed. And right at the end of the corridor, come down this way. The last

suicide bomber blows himself up. The deputy principal hides in there. She survives. And this here is what's left of the last attacker.


ROBERTSON: And we know from one of the hospitals that took in a lot of the wounded, they still have 15 children that they're treating, 4 of

them in ICU, 2 of them in a high-dependency unit, one of them was in surgery today. So, a lot of the children still facing a very, very

tough time. And for some of them still in that intensive care unit, their futures uncertain at the moment, Hala.

GORANI: And what are -- I mean, Pakistanis, it seems as though this attack was just the one attack that has shocked the entire country. Is

it likely to be a game changer in the sense that Pakistanis are now going to start demanding that their government take real, convincing

action against the Taliban?

ROBERTSON: We saw people today come and protest at the gates of the school, protest against the government saying that they want more

protection against the Taliban, that they don't feel safe. They don't think the government is doing enough. They're concerned and they're


At the same time, you have the small Christian community in the city of 3 million of Peshawar, saying that they're canceling their Christmas in

support and out of concern and sympathy for all those families who lost children.

The reality is the government has the potential here to seize the momentum that's sort of coming up from the streets, people angry at what

the Taliban have done here. But unless they do seize it in a concrete way, this may just be another point along the road where people are

angry at what the Taliban's doing and the government really fails to move it forward.

We've already heard from the government blaming in part Pakistan (sic) for this saying that the Taliban trained and planned and prepared for

this inside Afghanistan. The Taliban themselves say no, they did it inside Pakistan.

So, by blaming others -- rightly or wrongly, we don't know -- but by blaming others, there's a potential here to lose the political

initiative, Hala.

GORANI: All right, Nic Robertson, live in Islamabad. Thanks very much. And this programming note: the Syrian town of Kobani has become

synonymous with efforts to halt the advance of ISIS.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh was recently inside the besieged city. He spoke with the Kurdish fighters defending it from

militants, witnessed firsthand damage to the town, and spoke with families caught in the middle. And Nick brings us a remarkable and rare

look at the impact of ISIS inside Kobani. That airs Saturday at 6:00 PM Abu Dhabi time only on CNN.

Let's get more now on one of our top stories, Russian president Vladimir Putin and his annual news conference. Among the questions, several on

Ukraine and Russia's rapidly souring relations with the US. Mr. Putin repeated Russia's stance: Moscow is just defending its interests in its

own back yard, he said. And his message for Washington was explicit: we are not the war mongers here.

Mr. Putin had to address another key issue, his country's ailing economy. Half of the government's revenue comes from oil and gas

exports, and with falling oil prices, Mr. Putin is already pointing the finger. John Defterios has more on that from Abu Dhabi.

So, here President Putin is faced with a difficult situation, falling oil prices, a plummeting ruble. He's saying it could take two years for

all this to resolve itself, John.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Pretty blunt discussion, in fact, Hala. But it was not an easy press conference for him to try

to navigate. As you suggest, he has a currency crisis, a potential deep recession in 2015, and his number one cash winner, which is oil, making

up three quarters of the export earnings and, as you suggest, half of their overall revenue, falling by nearly 50 percent in six months.

So, he started to point some fingers about two hours into that marathon press conference. He took aim on the oil front with Saudi Arabia and

the United States, suggesting they're trying to keep oil prices low and targeting Russia and its allies, like Venezuela and Iran.

And he said that there are external factors driving both the ruble and oil lower. Let's take a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Quite clearly, this situation, which has been provoked by external factors

above all. But today's and yesterday's reduction in foreign currency will be maintained and possibly the further reduction in oil prices will

reduce further influence that national currency. That is possible.


DEFTERIOS: So again, President Putin, Hala, being fairly direct with the Russian people, suggesting this could be a protracted challenge for

the ruble.

To put it into perspective, we've seen the low in 2014 of 80 to the dollar. We started at the start of 2014 during that first crisis with

the sanctions from the European Union and the US at only $36, and that was a record low.

He took issue with Saudi Arabia, by the way, because Russia sent some representatives to the OPEC meeting at the end of November, offering an

olive branch, saying we'll cut production if you do the same to boost prices. And Saudi Arabia turned down that offer, Hala.

GORANI: I wonder if other emerging economies in the world are starting to worry for themselves as well. Because the risk of contagion, here,

of course, exists. If there's one crisis in one country, it could extend itself to others.

DEFTERIOS: I would agree with that, but it's not 1998, when Russia provided that shock against the global economy. We've seen the ruble

down, as you suggest, 50, 60 percent in 2014. We're seeing falls of 8 to 10 percent in countries like Indonesia and Turkey and even India.

So, it's not the contagion that we remember back during the Asia and Russia crisis in the late 1990s.

In fact, right now, for Russia, they have to be really careful because of that fall in oil prices. This is going to leave a huge gap in their

budget in 2015, Hala. We're looking at, if the price stays around $60 a barrel, a hole of $180 billion to $200 billion. It's not going to be

easy to make it up, and you can see the fall in oil prices over the last six months.

Mr. Putin tried to put a positive spin, suggesting even with the sanctions, we grew 0.6, 0.7 percent when it's all said and done in 2014.

What he left out, though, Hala, was that we could see a recession of 4 to 5 percent. And he said the recover could take up to two years.

Let's take a listen.


PUTIN (through translator): This situation could continue approximately -- nobody can say exactly -- for two years. But that does not have to

be like that. The situation can improve sooner, even the first or second quarter of next year or the end of next year. Nobody can say



DEFTERIOS: So Hala, what we're looking at here is rising inflation. It could hit double digits in early 2015. This could erode his power base,

those who have supported him for ten years. Falling oil prices and a currency crisis.

Let's be blunt: he sat on the stage for about nearly four hours and had to face a very tough barrage of questions. A not great way to finish

out 2014, and it looks like the first half of 2015 will be equally if not more difficult for Mr. Putin.

GORANI: OK, John Defterios, thanks very much.

In today's Parting Shots, setting no limits. Freelance photojournalist Mostafa Darwish set out to capture the lives of the blind in Egypt.

It's part of a multimedia project that he began in 2013. And he found that their disability is not necessarily a handicap when it comes to

living their lives. Take a look.


MOSTAFA DARWISH, PHOTOJOURNALIST: My name is Mostafa Darwish. I'm 22 years old, freelance photographer here in Egypt. I did a project about

blind people in Egypt, the showed to me their daily life, the music as they played, such as orchestra, light orchestra.

They are willing to do anything to prove to everyone that they can perform any work just like normal people. One thing that really gripped

me was that man called Mohammad Ali and his work in a company as an IT manager. He fixes his neighbors' PCs.


GORANI: One last thing to mention before we end the program, our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour will talk with Mariela

Castro, the daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro and the niece of Fidel.

It's Mariela Castro's first interview since the landmark US-Cuban deal. Find out what she has to say about the prospect of better relations with

the US. That's an "Amanpour" at 7:00 PM in London, 8:00 PM in Berlin.

I'm Hala Gorani, thanks to all of you for watching. A quick break and then it's MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, and I'll see on "The World Right Now"

in a little more than three hours.


DEFTERIOS: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, a new era for the telecoms industry. The head of Turkcell on the future of mobile



SUREYYA CILIV, CEO, TURKCELL: We have more than 100,000 people apply to Turkcell to work. It's the number one company that young people want to

work for.


DEFTERIOS: Plus, seasonal spending. How shopping and tourism are making for a very merry Christmas.

Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, this week from downtown Dubai. We know that mobile phone usage is surging. You can see it outdoors at

notable venues, but also within the workplace, and the hot area right now, smartphones. And it's less about the voice and more about the


Smartphone use in the region has doubled to more than 110 million units, up from 67 million last year. Qatar has the highest percentage of

smartphone penetration at 75 percent. The UAE comes a close second at 73 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt.

One of the countries tapping into that growth is also one of the region's most populated, and that is Turkey. Straddling the Middle East

and Europe, it offers the dynamics of being both an emerging market and also right near the best of European technology.


DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Turkcell is one of the largest mobile operators in the region. Sureyya Ciliv is the group's CEO. After receiving a

scholarship to study computer science at the University of Michigan, Ciliv lived in the United States for 27 years.

In 2007, he was lured away from an executive position at Microsoft to take up the post at Turkcell, the first and only Turkish company listed

on the New York Stock Exchange. Ciliv is credited with architecting Turkcell's transition from a pure mobile operator to a products and

services company.

This explains his passion for Turkcell Tech, the product and services development arm of the business where he took me for a tour.

CILIV: Here we are at our control center. This place used to be called Network Control Center, but now it is called Control Center because it

also includes our services and our new products, like Turkcell TV Plus. So, you see, our mobile network, our fixed network. It's being

monitored here 24 hours a day.

DEFTERIOS (on camera): With 35 million subscribers, operations in 9 countries, and a 52 percent share of its home market, Turkcell posts

some pretty strong numbers.

CILIV: In 2011, 12, and 13, Turkcell has been one of the fastest- growing telecom groups in Europe for this reason. Because of huge mobile internet growth and also fiber growth. So, these businesses,

several years ago, they had almost zero revenue. Now, they are billion lira businesses.

DEFTERIOS: Give a sense of how much data has grown here in Turkey the last five years, and the rate of growth that you're seeing even in 2014.

CILIV: In the last five years, our data traffic volume has increased by a factor of 200. So, one has become 200. It has grown significantly.

Turkcell's main growth engines has been the mobile data growth, fiber data growth, and also mobile services. So, we invested into these new

businesses starting 7, 8 years ago, and these growth engines have made Turkcell one of the fastest-growing telecom groups in Europe.

DEFTERIOS: This is a population of nearly 80 million consumers. We almost got spoiled by 7, 8, 9 percent growth in Turkey, and now we're in

this band between 3 and 4 percent. How does this translate into revenue for Turkcell? How does it impact the bottom line?

CILIV: I don't feel squeezed. I feel very excited about the opportunities. Maybe I am in Turkcell and I'm in the technology field

and it's a mobile world, but I see tremendous opportunities in mobile health, mobile education, in television.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Ciliv says the development of devices is a key component of Turkcell's strategy.

CILIV: The group mobile business is still the most important part of our business, but we have evolved the company from just a GSM company

into a total telecommunications and technology company.

Communication engineers, hardware engineers, industrial engineers.

DEFTERIOS: A team of engineers in this R&D department are behind the group's latest smartphone.

CILIV: In this area, we built this T50, the smartphone for Turkey. And it is very reasonably priced, it has great performance, as you see,

Turkcell T50.

DEFTERIOS (on camera): Why did it work here, do you think? Because the price points were right, but there was a brand trust that allowed

you to come in with your own product?

CILIV: Success comes from when you align, when you do a lot of things right. So, it's not just one thing.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Turkcell employs 14,000 people in Turkey alone. Ciliv says the company is popular with millions of Turkish job seekers.

CILIV: We have more than 100,000 people apply to Turkcell to work. It's the number one company where young people want to work for.

DEFTERIOS: Turkcell's latest project is a mobile health device that communicates patients' vital data directly to their doctors. Another of

Ciliv's push to constantly innovate and keep the telecom giant in good financial health.


DEFTERIOS: Sureyya Ciliv, once again, of Turkcell in Istanbul. Still to come on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, a special look at the world of

retail, shopping superpower. How the Chinese rush towards consumerism is driving growth here and abroad.


DEFTERIOS: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, this week from Dubai Mall, where more than 75 million consumers passed through last

year. That's more than the Eiffel Tower, Disney World in Florida, and Niagara Falls combined. But this week, we're taking a look in the world

of retail at the rise of the Chinese consumer outside the country. Kristie Lu Stout has the story.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in one of Hong Kong's famous shopping districts, a global phenomenon is at

play, as the world's most lucrative tourists take to their favorite pastime, shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We traveled to shop. I spent most of the time shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I bought Mew Mew, Adidas, and also gold jewelry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When I see brand name shops, I'm very happy.

STOUT: Mainland Chinese travelers are now the world's top holiday spenders. The United Nations World Tourism Organization says they

racked up nearly $130 billion in tourism spending in 2013.

RICHARD MCKENZIE, GREATER CHINA DIRECTOR, OC&C STRATEGY: As China gets wealthier and the middle class starts to get wealthier, they're moving

into that band of wealth where they can afford to travel abroad. Shopping is absolutely a key part of it, and culturally, they all want

to shop when they travel.

STOUT: Shopping also appears to be a key driver of where these tourists are going.

MCKENZIE: They do that because they've got access to brands that they haven't got access to here, and there are cheaper prices. And they like

the fact that they can get -- they know they're going to be authentic, where there are always authenticity issues if they buy from mainland


STOUT: More growth is expected as Chinese shoppers continue to expand their horizons. A report done by OC&C Strategy says Mainland Chinese

travelers are expected to take more than 200 million trips abroad in the next five years, double the amount of trips in 2014.


DEFTERIOS: Everyone, of course, is eager to tap the growth of China, and Dubai is no exception. Having attracted 250,000 visitors last year

in search of sun, sand, and shopping. Now, they can add this British icon to their list of retail destinations as Jim Boulden reports.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the busiest time of year for luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason, but CEO Ewan

Venters is thinking well beyond this Christmas and this flagship store on London's Piccadilly.

EWAN VENTERS, CEO, FORTNUM & MASON: Throughout our history, Fortnum's has always taken its products to wherever its customers are in the

world. So, we're now starting to identify key locations where people have an appreciation for what Fortnum's is about, and especially the

countries and cities in the world that love tea.

BOULDEN: The biggest expansion outside the UK was to Dubai in March. Add to that a few smaller stores in a London train station and airport.

Fortnum & Mason is feeling bullish about spreading its wings.

VENTERS: We're now in a position where Piccadilly is performing extremely well. Sales went up 14 percent last year. Profitability

doubled year on year.

BOULDEN (on camera): OK.

VENTERS: So, we're in a much more complementary style, and this is our moment. The time is right to take Fortnum's into the world.

BOULDEN (voice-over): Fortnum & Mason has tried expansion before, including to New York City back in 1930.

VENTERS: Well, of course, the 1930s wasn't a great time in America.


BOULDEN (on camera): Too expensive.

VENTERS: So -- there was a depression going on. But on our focus in shops outside of Piccadilly is very much focused on the five big

categories. So, it's all about teas, about confectionery, about biscuits, preserves, and of course, our iconic hamper, the Fortnum

hamper, which most people across the world know about.

BOULDEN (voice-over): While more expansion is on the cards, there are limits.

VENTERS: I suspect we'll -- you'll see us in one or two of the most incredible airports that are being built in the Middle East. I'm not in

any particular rush to get into China. We're attracting a lot of Chinese visitors when they're here in London. But from my analysis of

the market, there's a lot of luxury retailers in the world going into China and losing a lot of money.

BOULDEN: Fortnum & Mason is, after all, 307 years old. Venters is expanding this British brand at his own pace.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.


DEFTERIOS: Jim Boulden on marketing a bit of British history abroad. And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, this

week from Dubai. I'm John Defterios, thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.