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Will Cease-fire in Yemen Hold?; Raul Castro Visits the Vatican. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 10, 2015 - 11:00:00   ET


[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Strong words from the United Nationals over alleged Saudi violations of international

humanitarian law. Tonight, will a cease-fire plan agreed to by both sides in Yemen help prevent more deaths and destruction in the country? We'll

explore that.

Also ahead, papal diplomacy on full display as Cuba's Raul Castro meets Pope Francis at the Vatican. A look at the pivotal role the Vatican has

played in paving Washington's emerging detente with Havana. And...


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Now she's the first Iranian artist to have a solo exhibition at New York's

renounced Guggenheim Museum.

MONIR FARMANFARMAIAN: And I never believe I will have such a chance.


ANDERSON: From Tehran to New York, we meet the artist bringing a Persian influence to modern expression.

MALE: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is "Connect the World." With Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: A very good evening. It is just after seven o'clock here, amid victory day ceremonies in Moscow. The German Chancellor and Russian

President acknowledged tensions over Russia's involvement in Ukraine's conflict. But together, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin laid wreaths at

Moscow's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Then in a news conference, Mr. Putin said there is no alternative to a peaceful settlement in Ukraine. And Mrs. Merkel called for Ukraine's

territorial integrity to be restored.

Matthew Chance has more from Moscow. Most Western leaders have avoided stepping foot in Russia, since the Ukraine crisis. Matthew, not so, Mrs.

Merkel. What's her message to the Russian President and its people?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. You're absolutely right. And this is the most high-profile Western leader Angela

Merkel that has come to Russia during these victory day celebrations, the 17th anniversary of commemoration since the end of the Second World War.

And I think it's important to remember that the primary reason that Angela Merkel came here was to pay her respects to the war dead and to

acknowledge, yet again, the German culpability in the killings that took place during the Second World War. Remember 26 million Soviet citizens

died. By far, the largest number of people who were sacrificed in fighting that conflict.

Angela Merkel saying at a joint news conference afterwards that she had to she was "bowing her head" -- just to quote what she's saying here --

"bowing her head to the victims of the fallen soldiers of that war."

She said she remembered the Holocaust that will always be in the minds of Germans. But of course, that was the primary reason. But there were other

discussions, as well behind closed doors with Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, particular Ukraine. That was the reason the conflict in Ukraine,

the alleged military involvement of Russia in Eastern Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

These were the reasons why Western leaders did not turn out to that very dramatic military parade yesterday. They thought it would be inappropriate

to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, celebrating the Russian military at a time when Russia is accused of increased militarism in Europe.

She didn't pull any punches, though. When it came to Ukraine, said that the annexation of Crimea was an illegal act. And the call for the

territorial integrity of Ukraine to be restored.

And so, yes, she came here to commemorate the war dead, to accept culpability for Germany's role. But she pulled no punches when it came to

the issues facing Russian relations with Germany and the West to date.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: the most important party, which is why France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia have tried to use the Normandy

format as an initiative to find measures that will allow such a diplomatic sedition (ph).

The implementation of this has, of course, been a major subject during our discussion today. And we both agreed that the working groups that have

been implemented will have to deliver.


CHANCE: Angela Merkel there talking about how the diplomatic solution that's already been signed and that is supposed to have been implemented is

the best hope for a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin added his support to that, as well, saying these Minsk Accords, these agreements signed in the Belarusian capital of Minsk earlier

this year to bring to an end the fighting in Eastern Ukraine were the best chance for peace in that country.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance reporting from Moscow for you.

Well, the northeast corner of the Philippines is feeling the wrath of Super Typhoon Noul. The storm made landfall on the Island of Luzon about six

hours ago to now lashing the region with fierce winds and heavy rain raising concerns about flooding, storm surges and landslides. The storm

not expected to exit the country until Tuesday, as it makes it ways Northwest towards Japan.

Storm chaser, James Reynolds joins me now from the Philippine town of Santa Ana.

What's the latest where you are?

JAMES REYNOLDS, STORM CHASER: Hi, Becky. Well, I'm pleased to report conditions here are actually starting to improve, as the typhoon, it's

starting to move away from this area. So we have in six or seven hours these really ferocious and dangerous weather conditions, you know, blinding

rain, very, very strong wind. But it's the middle of the night here now, so it's very difficult assess exactly how much damage has been done. We'll

have to wit until a day like tomorrow to find out a situation.


ANDERSON: Yeah, the Filipinos are not unfamiliar to massive storms and typhoons. The Philippines experiences an average of something like 20

typhoons a year. How are people coping?

REYNOLDS: Absolutely. You know, this is typhoon country here. Every year, they're (inaudible) hit. So even though they don't come out of the

blue, so to speak. But this one was taken especially seriously. The Philippines Government raised the highest warning signal number four on

that scale, in anticipation of the storm.

And (inaudible) are going around town today. You know, you saw people preparing, boarding up their windows. The hotel I was at, they, you know,

they've been able to evacuate people, back away from the beach to more solid buildings. They're -- from what I've (inaudible) already been taking

extremely seriously, Becky.

ANDERSON: James Reynolds on the phone for you from the Philippines. Thank you.

Yemen's anti-government rebels have accepted a Saudi-proposed cease-fire to allow aid into the country. Now the five-day truce, due to start on

Tuesday. And ahead of that, Saudi-led airstrikes have intensified. The home of the former (ph) leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh was bombed overnight in

Sanaa. Saleh's forces fighting, along with the Houthis, against President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi who has fled to Riyadh. Now appearing on tv to

show he was unhurt, Saleh was scathing and sarcastic about the Saudi-led campaign.


KING ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, SAUDI ARABIA (through translator): This enemy is a coward. You are welcome on the grounds. Make your move and we will make

sure to receive you with a great welcome. Using aircrafts and bombshells will get you nowhere in achieving any of the goals you aim for. I am

warning you, put a stop to these actions towards the Yemeni nation because I predict that the tables will turn.


ANDERSON: Bringing in journalist Hakim Masmari, who is in the Yemeni capital for you at Sanaa, tonight.

How significant was Saleh's appearance?

HAKIM MASMARI, JOURNALIST: Very significant, especially after he attended the place of the attack in the morning. But what's (inaudible) as well is

that after his interview 30 minutes later, other airstrikes took place, that destroyed more parts of his residence.

So the second airstrike was basically more to target him directly since the Saudis expected him to remain in the house after his interview that he gave

while being there.

This incident has made many of those who were opposing Saleh have sympathy for him because he's a former president and has been giving in to Saudis

demand over the last couple of weeks and has accepted parts of Saudi Arabia and announced this officially. So this one -- and a big twist today was

the announcement of loyalty of his alliance to be to (inaudible) with the Houthis in the open. While, in the past, it was not the case.

So it's (inaudible) if Saudi wants to win this war, it needs to gain alliances and Saleh is still one of the most powerful people in Yemen. So

losing him is giving the Houthis a big lift.

ANDERSON: Hakim, do people have any faith in this upcoming cease-fire?

MASMARI: Becky, it's not about faith. It's about the only option left. People are suffering right now in Yemen like no other time in the past --

hunger, no electricity, blackouts for the last 36 days. I was supposed to do this interview by Skype, but because of the blackouts, that's not

possible. Price hikes are -- right now (inaudible) cannot be found and it's only for 800 percent higher than the (inaudible) oil price because of

this blackout. So people are (inaudible) very desperate chances. So there is no way this can -- if this does fail, we're seeing a very serious

humanitarian crisis in Yemen, unlike any time in the past.

ANDERSON: Hakim, thank you for that and apologies to viewers for the quality of the line there. But as you can see, incredibly important that

we get through to the reporting on the ground, as often as we can in Yemen. And Hakim describing just how difficult things are there. Coming up on

CONNECT THE WORLD is Bob Forth (ph) in Yemen.

Aid agencies, one of the growing humanitarian crisis. And now they are afraid that Saudi-led airstrikes may hit civilian areas. Later, what

Cuba's President said about the Catholic Church after meeting with Pope Francis.


ANDERSON: Authorities in Iraq are trying to find out who is responsible for a deadly car bombing in Baghdad on Saturday. The blast killed seven

people in what is a largely Shia district. Crowds of people were gathered to prepare for an annual religious pilgrimage. And a manhunt also under

way for dozens of prisoners who escaped from a prison north of the capitol. ISIS says it is responsible for that jail break. At least nine of those

who escaped were facing terror charges.

You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, out of the UAE at 30 minutes past seven.

Back to one of our top stories for you. The U.N. and aid agencies warning of an entire civilian population at risk. In Northern Yemen, Saada

province is a Houthis stronghold. And this weekend, it's all intense bombing by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners.

Riyadh says it warns civilians to evacuate the province ahead of the intensified airstrikes this weekend across Yemen. But many have no

transport and nowhere to go. A temporary cease-fire is due to start on Tuesday to allow humanitarian aid.

And for more on this, I'm joined by Faisal Al Yafai, who is chief economist with the national newspaper here in Abu Dhabi and originally from Yemen.

Where do you think things stand on Yemen at present? We are promised a cease-fire, starting Tuesday, which -- I mean, we'll discuss this --

probably plays into GCC leaders going to Washington and meeting President Obama at Camp David midweek. All these complex calculations clearly coming

together amongst world leaders at present. Where do we stand in Yemen?

FAISAL AL YAFAI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, NATIONAL ABU DHABI NEWSPAPER: Well, I think you have to start with what's happening on the ground. And

certainly, things are very difficult, as you heard, from Hakim Masmari a few minutes ago.

I think a lot of what will come next depends on what the Houthis will do. The Houthis have a history of using ceasefires, agreeing to ceasefires, and

then seeking to use them as a way of pushing their military gain. So if that happens on Tuesday when the cease-fire comes into effect, the Saudis

have been clear that they won't tolerate that. If the Houthis hold the cease-fire, if there's a humanitarian pause (ph), there might be a chance

for people to get some aid, some food on the ground.

ANDERSON: Significance of solid appearance.

AL YAFAI: Yeah. Well, so as you were discussing with Masmari a few minutes ago, this is unusual that he has come out so forcefully in support

of the Houthis. Previously, he hadn't been so clear that he was the one behind this rebel group.

It's not clear what Saleh is playing at, because if he really believes that his is a problem that has been imposed upon Yemen, well, he has a big role

in fixing it. All he has to do is to say to the generals who still support him, let's have a cease-fire and he hasn't done that. That rather implies

that he doesn't worry too much about the Yemeni people, but only of his position within Yemen .

ANDERSON: Let's talk about how Yemen informs what is a wider calculation going on at present between leaders here and particularly in this region,

particularly those of Saudi of Washington at present. How do you read what will happen later this week?

AL YAFAI: Well, it's a -- there are two things going on at the same time. The GCC have wanted to meet with the Americans for a while to make clear to

them that they are deeply concerned in what is happening across the Arabian Gulf.

In Iran they feel that the Iranians have had a long period in the sun with the Americans to talk about their nuclear program, this -- the program that

they are hoping will have a resolution in the next few weeks. At the same time, though, the GCC wants to make clear that the problems that it feels

Iran is creating fomenting on both sides of their borders is not something that they will tolerate going forward with a nuclear program.

ANDERSON: How does the GCC think what it seems as a new strategic treaty obligation with Washington? We also have the injection of a narrative from

the U.N. back into Yemen.

I just want to get your thoughts on what you've heard from the United Nations. It says that the airstrikes on Saada province in Yemen violate

international law. In a statement, humanitarian coordinator to Yemen said, and I quote: "The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or

without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law. Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada, as they are unable

to access transport because of the fuel shortage, the targeting of an entire government will put countless civilians at risk."

These words and this warning from the United Nations, as it does seem clear that Washington is putting increasing pressure on Saudi, ahead of this

meeting in Washington this week, on Saudi with regard to Yemen. Is Saudi listening? And will it continue to listen to Washington?

AL YAFAI: I'm not sure that's exactly the right way to frame it. It was John Kerry who came out over the weekend and said that they had implemented

this cease-fire. The U.S. and the GCC Coalition are neck and neck in that they are deeply involved in it now. There are problems in Saada province.

There's no doubt. You heard what the U.N. had to say.

At the same time, though, it is Saada province that has been used as the launching ground for mortar strikes on Saudi Arabia's villages and towns.

So the Saudis are not really going to accept a group on their border firing missiles, firing mortars and causing casualties in their territory.

ANDERSON: This will be a cease-fire everywhere and nowhere, said the new foreign minister, the former -- the new Saudi foreign minister, the former

ambassador to Washington, who clearly understands how complex these calculations are at present and has very good relations with those at the

White House and the Pentagon, of course

Should we rely on this cease-fire at this point? I know you've pointed out that the Houthis have to got sign up for this as well and they have said

that they will.

AL YAFAI: OK. Right. So it is all dependent on the Houthis. This is what the statement is meant to reply, that if the Houthis will not have a

cease-fire in one part, then there will be no cease-fire in the whole of Yemen. It entirely depends on what comes next.

Look, just a few weeks ago, when "Operation Decisive Storm" came to an end, the Saudis announced that that was the end of the attacks. Within hours

the Houthis had gone into a military base and taken it over. This is their modus operandi. And the Saudis are going to be watching very closely in

the hours after Tuesday.

ANDERSON: Isn't the problem simply this, that the Saudis don't have an endgame in Yemen?

AL YAFAI: I don't think any of us have an endgame. Part of the problem was that the Americans did not have an endgame in Yemen for so long and

that was why the GCC had to go in. So this isn't something that they have -- that the GCC have come up with. It is something that was forced upon

them, because the American were standing by and watching.

ANDERSON: Sure. And the U.S. will say their endgame is get rid of Al Qaida and the Arabian Peninsula. They're sort of not really very mindful

of anything else that was going on in the country -- the biggest story.

AL YAFAI: The endgame -- the Americans have sort of shifted their position over the years with Yemen. At first, they were very forceful in their

support of the transition. And as that didn't seem to be working, suddenly they shifted towards helping the Houthis -- towards (inaudible) the Houthis

about Al Qaida. In the end, if the Americans wanted to play a responsible role in the region, they cannot simply worry about one small part of the


ANDERSON: Certainly, isn't the model of transition that Obama has been touting in September and into the back end of the year. Thank you very

much and thanks for joining us. It was a pleasure having you on.

For a breakdown of the key issues surrounding the conflict in Yemen, including how it started and what's at stake. Do use the website. It

looks it features a gallery of photographs that really bring the conflict there into sharp focus. That is, and search for Yemen, what's

going on.

Live from Abu Dhabi. This CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, Afghan women sentenced to prison for moral offenses talk about the

freedom they have discovered behind bars. Also ahead, a 91-year-old artist is still producing beautiful works of art is impressive enough, but it's

where you can now see her work that's not just remarkable, it's historic. You'll meet her up next.


[11:30:35] ANDERSON: This is "Connect The World." So I'm Becky Anderson. The top stories here on CNN.

Saudi-led airstrikes have hit the home of the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Forces loyal to Saleh have been accused of supporting

Yemen's anti-government of Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia has agree to a five-day ceasefire set to start this Tuesday.

Syrian war planes carried out nearly two dozen airstrikes in Northwestern Syria after al-Nusra rebels broke into a hospital on Sunday. That's

according to the Syrian observatory for human rights. Now, state media reported some rebels were killed near the hospital.

After meeting in Moscow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that diplomacy is the only solution to the

conflict in Ukraine.

Mrs. Merkel pulled for Ukraine's -- and I quote -- "territorial integrity to be restored."

Super Typhoon Noul is lashing the Northeast corner of the Philippines with heavy rains and strong winds. The storm made landfall on the island of

Luzon on Sunday afternoon. A storm chaser on the ground tells CNN conditions there are starting to improve, but authorities are concerned

about possible flooding and landslides.

Well, Ivan Cabrera has been monitoring these storms for us, tracking it from the International Weather Center, and he joins us now.

How long do you think this is going to last? And how much worse is it expected to get?

IVAN CABRERA: Yeah, as you -- well, not -- not much worse. I think at this point, we're done as far as the Philippines. But this storm is not

done as far as the folks that it's going to be impacting here, because this is headed towards Japan.

It will not be a super typhoon by the time it gets out to Japan. In fact, I don't think it's a super typhoon right now. This is just the last

advisory we've been able to get. We'll get a new one, and the winds will be below 240 kilometers per hour. That means it will lose its super

typhoon status. It will just be a typhoon. And, in fact, you can clearly see some of the clouds beginning to move in. That's going to shear this

thing apart.

Look, it's almost missing half its side here on the Western flank of it. That's indicative of some very strong winds taking care of this. So this

could have been much, much worse. As you know, this could have gone right over Manila as a super typhoon. It did not. It hit a sparsely populated

area. And the area that it did hit -- those folks were evacuated upwards of 1,500 people, so excellent news. In fact, it's not even raining at this

point across portions of Northern Luzon. So, yes, absolutely, the worst is over for them. But, as I mentioned, not quite done.

That frontal boundary -- that trough is going to begin to pick up the storm, and so that by the time we get into the next 24 hours, it'll head

over towards Okinawa as a big rain maker. I don't think this is going to be a wind threat for Okinawa, and neither for Japan. We'll have some gusty

winds, but certainly not destructive winds.

We'll put this into motion, continue here, as we take you into Tuesday local time, 1500. And there it is.

The front has now completely absorbed what once was a super typhoon. And now we're just talking about big rain from kind of (ph) Hashima heading up

towards Tokyo through the middle part of the week.

There's your track as it races off to the North and East, becoming a post- tropical. So I think we have certainly missed out on what could have been a terrible situation for the Philippines. And, in fact, Becky, now there's

another super typhoon. We just had one a couple of months ago, so this is a bit unusual to get them this strong this early. But thankfully, it hit

an area again that not many people live in. So excellent news there. We'll keep you posted if that changes.

ANDERSON: Excellent stuff.

CABRERA: Mm-hmm.

ANDERSON: Thank you for that.

Cuban President Raul Castro is publicly thanking Pope Francis for his role improving U.S.-Cuban relations. They met privately at the Vatican today,

Sunday. It's their first face-to-face meeting since the surprise breakthrough between Washington and Havana was announced in December.

Afterwards, Mr. Castro, a communist and longtime atheist, joked that he is so impressed by Francis, he may start praying and, quote, "return to the

Catholic Church."

The Pope -- due to make a short visit to Cuba before heading to the United States in September.

For more on Sunday's meeting, we're joined by CNN's Ben Wedeman in Rome and CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Havana.

And, Ben, let's start with you. An interesting twist on today's meeting with what was a surprising statement from the Communist leader. Your


BEN WEDEMAN: Well, you know, maybe it's a case of "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." And that's certainly what Raul Castro seemed to be doing. He

said that when -- afterwards, during a joint press conference with the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, he said, "Pope Francis is a Jesuit,

and me, too, to a degree. I also -- I went always to Jesuit schools" in his youth.

[11:35:18] Now, he went on to say, "I've already told my council of advisers, I read all the Pope's speeches. And I told the prime minister,

Prime Minister Renzi, that if the Pope continues to speak like this, sooner or later, I will start praying again, and I will return to the Catholic

Church. And I'm not saying this jokingly. I'm a Communist of the Cuban Communist Party."

So, this was a visit that we expected him to say thank you to Pope Francis for his efforts to break the diplomatic deadlock between the United States

and Cuba. But certainly, this indication that he may have found, at the age of 85, faith is something of a surprise, and makes it even more


And certainly, the upcoming trip in September to Cuba may be interesting, indeed, since he did say he's -- in -- during this press conference, "I

promise that I will go to all of Pope Francis' masses."


ANDERSON: Patrick, he said he wasn't joking. Is he serious?

PATRICK OPPMANN: Well, you know, for those of us who cover Raul Castro a lot, he does have a sense of humor that certainly his brother Fidel Castro

never exhibited. It's always tough to know. It speaks a lot to the change. Of course, Fidel Castro went to all the masses that Pope John Paul

conducted while he was here. It was the big thaw between the church and the Cuban state, which up until then, had been officially atheist -- have

actually repressed people's religions, particularly Catholics -- but Fidel Castro always kept some distance, and said that he would remain atheist.

Like Raul Castro, he had studied with the Jesuits. But then when they took power here, they threw all the Jesuits and thousands of other priests out.

Made many young priests, including Cuba's current cardinal, go to work camps.

But there has been...


OPPMANN: A real turnaround relationship, and it's been helped by Pope Francis' efforts to bring the United States and Cuba closer together. So

certainly, for many Cubans, if they did see Raul Castro suddenly in a Catholic Church pew, I think it will be nothing short of miraculous.

ANDERSON: Hmm. All right. Let's take a step back, gentlemen, and remind our viewers about the Pope's long history involving Cuban-U.S. relations.

In 1998, of course, he wrote a book called "Dialogues between John Paul II and Fidel Castro." At the time, he was not even an arch bishop. But in

it, he strongly criticized Cuba's socialist government, but he also condemned the U.S. embargo on Cuba, writing -- and I quote -- "The motives

which led the United States to impose the embargo have been entirely superseded in the present time," adding later, "The Cuban people must

overcome this isolation."

How important, Ben, do you think this trip to Cuba is for the Pope?

WEDEMAN: Well, for the Pope, certainly, it does kind of add icing to the cake of his diplomatic breakthrough, the fact that he was able to convince

the United States under President Barack Obama, after more than 50 years, to resume diplomatic relations with the United States. But it's important

to keep in mind that Pope John Paul II went to Cuba in 1998. Benedict XVI went there in 2012. So Francis going there in September will definitely be

important for the Cuban government and regime and the Pope, but it's not quite as historic, say, as the 1998 visit by Pope John Paul II, which was

the first since the Cuban Revolution.

Unfortunately, that particular visit, I recall quite vividly, was rather overshadowed at the last moment by the breaking news of the Monica Lewinsky

scandal. Let's hope that in September...


WEDEMAN: ... we don't have similar news distractions.


ANDERSON: Let's hope not.

Patrick, how well received will the Pope be in Cuba?

OPPMANN: Very well received. This, of course, will be the first time you have a Latin American Pope. A Spanish speaking Pope here in Cuba -- I

covered John Paul's visit and Benedict's visit. And, of course, he spoke excellent Spanish, but there's just something so different, Becky, when

someone comes and speaks in their native language and a Pope who has stood for the poor and has a way of connecting with people. So I think

particularly this Pope, who's been very, very involved in the trenches of U.S.-Cuba diplomacy -- and we've seen that the thaw has been a slow one.

So he plans on pushing that forward.

They're still finalizing his schedule, but we are told he'll, of course, have a mass in Havana's Revolution Square, and then travel elsewhere in the

country before heading to the United States.

So the symbolism of a Pope heading from Cuba to the U.S. -- you really can't overstate that. And this Pope seems certainly very eager to continue

pushing for this diplomacy that he's been so involved in up until now. So he will be very well received here. And it will be, in its own way, a

historic visit.

[11:40:18] ANDERSON: Well, on what looks like a beautiful day in Havana, and, indeed, in Rome, gentlemen, thank you.

What do you think of the Pope's continuing efforts to bridge the divide then between the U.S. and Cuba? Drop us a line. You can always follow the

stories that the team's working on throughout the day here in (inaudible) by going to our Facebook page. That's Get in

touch. Tweet me 140 characters or less, if that is your want, @beckycnn. That is, @beckycnn.

And our parting shots tonight -- women in prison in Kabul for moral offenses. A photographer gives us a rare look into their lives and tells

us why they don't want to leave.


GABRIELA MAJ: My name is Gabriela Maj. I'm a Polish-Canadian photographer based on the Gulf. And I was sent on assignment to cover a women's prison

facility on the outskirts of Kabul in Afghanistan.

The majority of the female population in the prisons have been incarcerated for something known as a moral crime. Moral crimes in Afghanistan is a

loose category that incorporates everything from being a victim of rape, running away from an abusive home, running away from an arranged marriage.

Many of them are in distress situations, as one can imagine, as many of them have expressed to me difficulties with sleep, with depression, anxiety

over what will happen once they are released.

Some women in -- in situations of this kind spoke about being -- being happy to be in the prison, to finally be away from the abuse that they had

been living with and suffering -- suffering from for so many -- so many years, and in some cases, most of their lives.

Several women I met who had murdered their husband, after long periods of time of being forced into prostitution and/or surviving awful physical

abuse, and were unable to -- to withstand -- to withstand that sort of a life anymore.

They were willing to serve the punishment for the crimes that they had committed, but they -- they did not regret what they did on account of the

fact that they themselves would not have been able to survive under those conditions any longer, nor would their children have been able to.

The cells are open and the women are able to visit each other and each other's rooms and spend time in the common spaces. There is the sound of

women's voices talking, arguing, laughing, and the sound of children.


ANDERSON: Remarkable footage. Remarkable photos.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was "Connect The World." From the team here in the UAE and those working with us around the world, it is a very good


CNN, though, of course, continues. Stay with us.



[11:45:32] MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN: More than 20 million people of Indian origin work abroad. Around a quarter are employed in the Middle East.

They are here seeking better opportunities for themselves.

Expat Indians send billions of dollars home every year. And while many work in construction here, this region is also home to another group of

migrant workers: skilled professionals.

This week on "Marketplace Middle East," we look at the role of the Indian worker on multiple levels, and ask if a new leadership back home means a

different future for those working here.


KAPUR (voiceover): Buzzing with activity, brick by brick, they build Dubai's iconic skyline. Laborers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Some

have been here 10 months, some, 10 years. They've all come for the same reason: money.

Genarten (ph) says he used to earn around $70 a month working in the fields in India. Here, he earns three times as much.

Such a jump in earnings allows these workers to send money home.

According to the World Bank, India topped the list for remittances last year. Indians from around the world sent a total of $70 billion to their

home country. In comparison, China receives $64 billion, the Philippines, $28 billion.

"It's why I came so far to work," Nimbarna (ph) tells us. "Otherwise, what's the point?"

He left Hyderabad in South India a decade ago. The money he sends home each month is what his family lives on. "If I don't earn here, it'll hard

to send the children to school," he says. "It's even hard to feed them."

KULWANT SINGH, PRESIDENT, INDIAN BUSINESS COUNCIL: I don't think it is just the -- the better salaries or packages that matters for certain

people. Every person looks beyond that. There are people who, for them, it is not the salary package that matters, but it is the safety and

security that is of greater concern. It's the education for their children. It is maybe a better home, maybe a cleaner living, maybe a

cleaner air.

KAPUR (voiceover): As president of the Indian Business Council, Kulwant Singh believes that Indians who work abroad will only benefit their

homeland on their return.

Amir Daftari found out more when he met him at his car rental company in Dubai.

SINGH: Dubai has got a perfect formula. It's got a great model. It is an example that many people, many countries around the world would like to

follow. So maybe that is something that they could give in exchange to the Indians or the Indian counterparts. Because they can pick up the

strategies, they can pick up the -- the solutions, the formulas that they have adopted to create some of the best cities around the world and put --

to put Dubai on a global map.

So that's something which India could learn from Dubai. So I think it's a perfect synergy between both of them. And I don't think that there's going

to be areas or times or issues when this is actually going to be demeaned or lowered or will go down ever. I think it is only going to move forward.

And it is going to strengthen the relationship between both the nations even stronger in the years to come.

KAPUR (voiceover): The majority of the 2.6 million Indians in the UAE are blue-collar workers, around 65 percent. Perhaps less known is the number

of white-collar workers: salesmen, clerical staff. They make up about 20 percent of the total number of Indians working in the UAE.

Skilled professionals are also making the move here: doctors, lawyers, architects. The result: Indians are the largest expatriot group here, as

well as many other (inaudible) countries, all drawn to the dream of a better life.


KAPUR: What brought you here?

SHAMSUDHEEN: I receive (ph) fortune. (ph)

[11:50:05] KAPUR (voiceover): KV Shamsudheen took a boat from the South Indian port city of Chennai to the UAE. It took him seven days to get


SHAMSUDHEEN: You know (ph) that old (ph) days, it was a must to come over here. Early days. Because the condition of India was so pathetic. No job

opportunities. People...

KAPUR: It's better to live in India?

SHAMSUDHEEN: Yes, yes, yes.

KAPUR (voiceover): A storybook tale. Not much in his pocket, but a big dream, and hard work. 45 years later, he's one of the most successful

Indians in the (inaudible), ranked number nine on a recent survey of the 100 most powerful in the region.

(UNKNOWN): Hello, (inaudible)? Hello, hello, hello?

KAPUR (voiceover): Now, he says, it's time to give back.

SHAMSUDHEEN: Each (inaudible) has a social (inaudible) spirit. The more I give to the society, more I will get.

KAPUR (voiceover): He's spreading the message on the airwaves, too, hosting his own TV show to deal with money matters.


KAPUR (voiceover): He councils migrant workers, teaching them about the very thing that made him wealthy: how to save money. It's important,

since many workers and their families don't budget for the future. Some workers on the financial brink have even turned to suicide.

KV hopes to educate enough of his countrymen so that a culture of saving takes hold and workers never reach that point of desperation.

(UNKNOWN): We pushed ahead, like a couple of years -- four years, five years, (inaudible) like that (ph). (inaudible), just when you move out of

India and go and work somewhere else.


KAPUR (voiceover): Back to the beginning. What does it take to land a job in the Gulf? We'll head to India to find out. That's next on "Marketplace

Middle East."


KAPUR: Welcome back to "Marketplace Middle East." This week, we're going beyond these construction sites, beyond the building boom, to bring you

diverse stories of Indian migrant workers.


KAPUR (voiceover): The link between this region and India is so strong, there are 700 flights between the UAE and India each week.

For Indians looking to work abroad, the journey begins here. This recruitment center in Mumbai processes around 100,000 job applications each

month. Its founder says 60 percent of them want to go to the same place.

KAPUR: Middle East tops the list?

WAQAR AZMI, FOUNDER AND CEO, SUTRA SERVICES: Absolutely, no doubt. Dubai (ph) it is.

KAPUR (voiceover): For many reasons. One, it's tax free. It's close to India. The culture is similar. It's almost a home away from home. Plus,

Aldi (ph) tells us, there's a feeling of having made it when you land a job in the UAE.

AZMI: It has a huge aspirational value to people (inaudible) in India because of being cross-culture (ph). The cost of living also is fairly

good compared to what you make. You can actually own a sports car or a great car then.

And (inaudible) is also pretty good.

KAPUR: So the income opportunities abroad are much better?

(UNKNOWN): Are much better.

[11:55:14] KAPUR (voiceover): These are the reasons drawing Adeel Khan. 24 years old, armed with an MBA, he already has a job at a prestigious tech

firm. But he still wants a job in the UAE.

ADEEL KHAN: At the end of the day, it comes down to money. And there is a lot more money abroad than there is in Mumbai.

KAPUR (voiceover): He says working abroad will help him leap-frog his career. What would take him five years to earn in India, he'll be able to

earn in just one if he goes abroad, he says. It's worth the sacrifice, worth leaving home.

KHAN: Dubai is not -- not very far away. Like, it's a small world right now. A T.R. (ph) flight and you are back at -- you can go back at home if

your family needs you.

And there is Internet. The whole world is connected right now. So I don't think that -- that is much of an issue.

KAPUR (voiceover): This has been the story of the Indian migrant worker for years. Could this man change the trend?


Prime Minister Modi, elected on a pro-business platform last year has made revising (ph) India's economy a priority. Key to that is a push to make

India a manufacturing hub which will create more jobs and absorb India's youth.

AMIR DAFTARI, CNN: These economic reforms put in by the new prime minister -- I mean, they're not quite there yet. Is that the way you see it, or...

SINGH: Well, I -- I don't want to discourage the statement and say that they're not doing a great job. I mean, I'm certain that what they -- what

they are trying to achieve (inaudible) or what their motive behind this is would be certainly to getting quality people back to India so they can

build India the way they have built the world. That's definitely -- I mean, I'm sure must be the prime motive. But, however, it is actually

going to take them some time, till the time goes that better India -- or -- or the -- or the India becomes a newer India, or something which can

actually give the people who come back from countries like the UAE, which is so organized and which -- hassle free, which is safe -- full of safety

and security. So it's going to take them some time.

KAPUR (voiceover): KV is confident things will change under the new leadership. He's urging people to stay in India. He says there will be

jobs. There will be good pay.

SHAMSUDHEEN: To work yourself in our own soil, our own country, our own motherland, you will be happy.

KAPUR (voiceover): He didn't have that choice. He wants India's youth to have it now.

KAPUR: For more about the program, you can check out our Facebook page. Do let us know your thoughts on the show.

That's it for this edition of "Marketplace Middle East." I'm Mallika Kapur in Dubai. Thank you for watching.