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CONNECT THE WORLD
Qatar Brokers Prisoner Swap Between Lebanon, al Nusra; Madame Tussauds Honors Star Wars; Chinese Investors Buy Stake in Manchester City FC. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET
Aired December 1, 2015 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:15] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Dancing in the streets, their loved ones are released by al Qaeda in Syria after more than a year in captivity.
I'll speak to the Lebanese Prime Minister for his reaction. In exchange for 16 soldiers, Lebanon released a number of prisoners, including an ex-
wife of the ISIS chief. All the details are just ahead.
Also coming up, prove it and I'll resign. The Turkish president challenges Russia to back up its claims that Ankara is buying oil from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is now the beginning of a journey for us into China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: One of England's iconic football clubs scores a major boost from Chinese investment. We'll have an exclusive interview with the
chairman of the Manchester City football group.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Kidnapped and held in captivity by al Qaeda in Syria for more than a year. In the past few hours, 16 Lebanese soldiers arrived
safely back in Beirut, their return part of a prisoner swap with al Nusra Front that was brokered by the Qatari government.
You can see them being greeted there by the country's Prime Minister Tammam Salam in exchange, a Lebanese security official tells CNN former
wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who you see here, was among those that the country let go.
The daughter they have together was also released. Back in 2014 dozens of men were kidnapped from the Lebanese town of close to the border
with Syria by militants of al Nusra, others are still being held hostage. But four were already executed. The body of one of them, Mohammed Amaya
(ph), was returned earlier.
Well, a deal worth making then? To help us find out, the Lebanese Prime Minister you just saw there, Mr. Salam, joins us now live from his
office in Beirut.
Prime Minister Salam, thank you for joining us. You've been celebrating the release with the soldiers and their families. The deal, as
we understand it, negotiated by Qatar, and included handing over Saja al- Duleimi the former wife of the ISIS leader.
What were you able to learn from her while she was in custody?
It looks to me as if we're having some technical problems there. We will get back to the prime minister of Lebanon just as soon as we can.
Apologies for that.
Moving on for you just for the moment. The conflict in Syria isn't just affecting neighbors like Lebanon, it has also dragged key stakeholders
in, of course, as well.
I want to move on and get you some of that, because since Turkey and Russia,
of course, have been involved as swell, the conflict there as I say, not just affecting neighbors in Lebanon, it's also dragging key stakeholders
like Russia and Turkey into a deepening row.
And now both countries' leaders have publicly challenged each other. Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has proof that Turkey is
buying oil from ISIS.
And Mr. Erdogan's response seemed pretty straightforward: prove it and I'll resign. If not, he thinks Mr. Putin should step down instead.
Well, it's the latest in the tit for tat accusations from both sides since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.
Let's see if we can get you to Moscow where Jill Dougherty is standing by. Jill, I hope you can hear me.
Putin is claiming to have this evidence, it could be a smoking gun if true. Is it any clearer whether that smoking gun exists at this point?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's hard to say specifically whether the proof is there because it is a charge, it's pretty
specific but there isn't actual proof being given.
That said, it's become a very important part of what President Putin is talking about. He says that essentially there are massive quantities of
oil coming from ISIS controlled territories being transported into Turkey as he said, on an industrial scale.
And why it's important is he says that the shootdown of the Russian plane, the SU-24, was motivated by a desire to protect those routes. So
it's a serious charge.
Now, at this point, much of it is he said/she said. But this is not new. This has been going on. But it's certainly, Becky, reached a
crescendo in charges.
ANDERSON: When I met Mr. Erdogan last week, Jill, he not only denied claims that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS but he said it was the Syrian
regime with links to Russia which was responsible. Just have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): Daesh as we speak, all the oil that they extract is being sold to the regime,
because the regime cannot buy anything oil from anywhere else.
I have a U.S. Treasury report about the issue and I'll be clear about this point, the regime and Russian companies are buying oil from Daesh and
selling it on. And it's the U.S. Treasury and we have supporting documents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: I've got that U.S Treasury report, Jill, he is referring to. And it specifically mentions Russian individuals and businesses. Has
there been any reaction from Russia?
DOUGHERTY: I have not seen specific reaction by the Russian government to that charge. But, again, here we are, you know, the
Russians, in turn, have been saying that President Erdogan's son is involved in this, also offering no particular proof and that has been
denied by President Erdogan, or at least by Turkey.
So, we're back to this back and forth but it is very serious. You know, one of the things that they talk about, the Russians talk about a
lot, is the porous nature of that border between Turkey and Syria. And that is one thing that they are intent. That's why some of their actions
have been right up against that border and that is one thing that they want to stop from happening.
ANDERSON: Another claim, serious claim Mr. Putin has made is that Turkey is essentially harboring fighters from Russia, people that Moscow
sees as terrorists.
But he went further, saying, and I quote, they are located on the territory of the Turkish republic residing in regions guarded by special
services and the police and later using the visa-free regime appear again on our
He said this while he's been at the COP21 meeting in Paris.
We know hundreds of Russians have left to fight in Syria, Jill. What's Moscow doing to eliminate the threat they pose?
DOUGHERTY: Well, specifically, you know, just this week you have the Russian government ending visa-free regime for people coming from Turkey
into Russia. And significantly, President Putin said that one of the reasons for that was national security.
So you can link that and say that that is why he is doing it or at least that is why he says he is doing it, but Russia is legitimately
worried. In fact it's not just hundreds, it's thousands according to the Kremlin, of people from the Russian areas, let's say, former Soviet Union
areas that are going into Syria and coming out, then potentially coming back to Russia to carry out attacks.
And that is one reason, again, that he started the air campaign in Syria, specifically, again, on national security grounds to protect
Russia. So, this is all very much connected. The terrorist threat, the oil threat. And it -- I think now we're seeing after the shootdown, a lot
more specific linking of these issues.
HAYES: There will be people who will be wondering or questioning why President Putin is bringing the issue up now. Is it clear?
DOUGHERTY: Well, I think clear in the sense that, again, the reason he carried out the air attacks or began the operation in Syria was
specifically, he said, to make sure that the terrorists who were there do not come back here to Russia to carry out attacks, that was number one.
And then right now, he is using that issue of terrorism and also sales of oil, ISIL oil, to both criticize Turkey, show that Russia is carrying
out a real anti-terrorist operation, according to him, and also he's using it to
criticize the United States.
What he is saying is, look at the U.S. operation, air operation, which has been working for quite a long time with very little action against ISIS
oil production. And Russia is now questioning why didn't it happen? Why didn't United States take more action?
The United States, of course, gives a variety of reasons for that, but it's a very sore point with the Russians and they're using it to score
points against the United States for not, as they would argue, doing enough.
ANDERSON: Jill, thank you. Jill is in Moscow for you this evening.
Meanwhile, the coalition fighting ISIS in Syria has received a boost. On Tuesday, Germany's cabinet approved a military support mission. It will
send up to 1,200 troops to the region as well as deploy reconnaissance jets. They will assist French efforts in Syria with refueling aircraft and
naval support to the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the region.
Germany will not carry out airstrikes. The German parliament will vote on the mission on Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, Britain's parliament will vote on whether to launch air strikes against ISIS in Syria.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was unsuccessful, you'll remember the last time he tried to get parliament to back strikes in Syria. But he
says that now the time is right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, I can announce that I will be recommending to cabinet tomorrow that we hold a debate and a vote
in the House of Commons to extend the air strikes that we've carried out against ISIL in
Iraq, that we extend that to Syria, that we answer the call from our allies that we work with them, because ISIL is a threat to our country and this is
the right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: We're going to try and re-establish with the Lebanese prime minister. So, we'll take a short break at this point.
Still to come tonight, more on the prisoner swap between al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate and Lebanon, months in the making. How did the final deal
come to fruition? We're going to take a look at that with not just the Lebanese Prime
Minister, but our terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank.
And it's crunch time for the climate, 150 nations are trying to hammer out an agreement to slow global warming. We'll look at how clean energy
solutions could save some of Africa's last remaining mountain gorillas.
[11:15:56] ANDERSON: This is CNN and Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. 15 minutes past 8:00. Welcome back.
Let's get you to our top story and the prisoner swap that took place earlier today between Lebanon and the Nusra Front brokered by Qatar.
Now, the Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam joining us now from his office in Beirut. And I think you can now hear me prime minister.
The deal as we understand it, negotiated by Qatar, and included handing over a woman by the name of Saja al-Duleimi, he former wife of the
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. What were you able to learn from her while she was in custody?
TAMMAM SALAM, PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON: You're asking me about the ex-wife of Baghdadi?
SALAM: Hello, Becky.
ANDERSON: That's correct, sir.
SALAM: Well, she's the ex-wife of Baghdadi, yes. She's simply the ex-wife of Baghdadi. She's married again here. And she has new bonds here
and she's living here and she doesn't want to join the ISIS it seems.
So, we tried to incorporate her in the exchange but she preferred to stay around.
ANDERSON: Lebanese security sources just told us -- a Lebanese security source just told us that her brother is a senior figure in Jubhat
al Nusra and her new husband also suspected to be involved with the group.
Given Qatar's role in the negotiation was it their reported ties to the group that sealed the deal?
SALAM: I couldn't understand what you're saying, Becky. Sorry. Your voice is very garbled, very distorted.
ANDERSON: I think we've got a very bad line.
SALAM: Very bad communication with you.
ANDERSON: Let me try one more time, sir. Yes. Let me try one more time. Saja al-Duleimi, as we've been reporting, wants to travel, we
believe, to Turkey with Baghdadi's daughter. Will they be free to do so as part of the terms of the deal?
SALAM: No, but the deal was that she would be handed over. When they got up there to the hills where the exchange was taking place, she decided
not to go over and to stay in Lebanon for the time being.
As I said, she's married to a Palestinian, I think, and she has a newborn. And she wants to stay here.
ANDERSON: Can you confirm that there are nine other Lebanese soldiers being held by ISIS and that your government is ready to negotiate with ISIS
for their release?
SALAM: Well, what happened with the faction of ISIS which is al Nusra, is totally different from what is to happen with Daesh. We have
nine soldiers with Daesh, but from the onset of this affair, we have not been able to make contact with Daesh regarding those nine soldiers.
Opposite to what has been going on for the past few months with al Nusra. As a matter of fact, from the beginning, negotiations started immediately
with al Nusra. And they went through some tough times and it's due to the Qatar intervention and help that we were able,
finally, to conclude this deal.
So for the time being there's nothing ongoing with Daesh for the other nine soldiers, unfortunately.
[11:20:14] ANDERSON: All right, sir. We're going leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us. And our apologies, viewers.
Clearly the communications were difficult this evening, but at least we got to speak to the
Lebanese prime on a story that is our top story today. Thank you, sir.
In the past hour, the U.S. has also announced it will send more of its forces to Iraq. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says Washington will send a
specialized expeditionary targeting force aimed at conducting raids. It's the latest escalation in the battle against ISIS, or ISIL as officials
sometimes call it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASH CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: In full coordination with the government of Iraq, we're deploying a specialized expeditionary targeting
force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIL.
These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders. This force
will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations in Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: More on your headlines at the bottom of the hour. Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World.
Coming up, as one of the English Premier League's largest clubs gets a boost from Chinese investors, we sit down with City football group chairman
to find out why.
And why developers in Brooklyn, New York, are in a race against time to build taller. That is in One Square Meter. And that is up next.
[11:25:05] JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: In a city famed for its iconic skyline, of sites of New York City's high-end high-rises is
nothing new. But the fast pace at which they've been sprouting up recently is this great old city has seen nothing like this before.
UNIDNEITIFIED MALE: This is a record level. We've never reached an average of $40 billion a year. So it's a real surging market that's firing
on all cylinders.
DEFTERIOS: Raja Fortune (ph) is a leading developer in a company which owns one of the tallest buildings in Brooklyn. Fortune says he has
seen an explosion of interest from buyers as far away as China.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the name recognition of Brooklyn, Brooklyn as a brand, is really exploded in the last decade. It's both the -- it's a
result of what's happened before as well as the catalyst what's -- for what's coming.
DEFTERIOS: The building recently broke records for real estate prices in downtown Brooklyn at over $21,000 per square meter. Just eight years
ago, prices averaged over $7,000 in the area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we are in a corner living room and dining room
right on the Hudson River.
DEFTERIOS: In Manhattan, this $15 million apartment with, that's right, a private pool, has recently come on the market. Broker Beth Fisher
says hot demand is being driven by a variety of factors, including New York's
emerging role as a technology hub.
BETH FISHER, REAL ESTATE BROKER: We see customers all the time that are at Google, they're in startups. There's a phenomenon of many people
working from home, so they're look for buildings that have a lot amenities.
DEFTERIO: But there may be another equally compelling reason for the construction boom: tax breaks, which both buildings received.
For more than 40 years a complicated law has entitled developers to abatements if they provided affordable housing, a key issue for New York.
The tax breaks may expire in January and this led to a flood of building applications.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whenever developers are looking to get their foundations in the ground by a deadline, they either know the law is going
to change in a way that's unfavorable or they believe the law could change in a way that's unfavorable. And they want to avoid the risk.
DEFTERIOS: For now, the future of the tax breaks hinge on whether a deal can be struck between the labor unions and developers before the
Insiders say failure will impact construction in the short term. But a resilient market will continue to transform the New York skyline.
John Defterios, One Square Meter, CNN.
[11:31:12] ANDERSON: This is Connect the World. The top stories for you this hour. Just after half past 8:00 here in the UAE.
Lebanon has released the ex-wife of the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi in a prisoner swap with the al-Nusra front. She is among a group of Islamists exchanged for 16 Lebanese soldiers. al-Baghdadi's daughter is
also believed to be part of the swap. Al-Nusra kidnapped dozens of soldiers last year.
Well, the diplomatic row between Russia and Turkey shows no sign of letting up. President Putin claims Turkey is buying oil from ISIS and shot
down a Russian warplane to protect that oil trade. Turkish President Erdogan denied that and said he would resign if Moscow could prove it. But
he said President Putin should resign if Moscow can't back up its claims.
Investigators say pilot error and technical failures were the cause of the Air Asia crash. The investigation found that the plane's flight
control computer malfunctioned and the way the pilots responded brought the plane down. All 162 people on board the plane were killed.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he is optimistic a deal can be reached at the Paris climate chage conference. Speaking just before he
departed from Paris, Mr. Obama urged delegates to come up with a, quote, legally binding mechanism to
make sure countries stick to carbon reduction commitments.
Let's get you back to our top story now. It took some 16 months, but they
are finally free, 16 Lebanese soldiers have arrived back in Beirut after a prisoner swap with the al Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate, it is said in
Syria. In return, Lebanon has released prisoners, including the ex-wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. A security source says Saja al-Duleimi
was freed along with her daughter.
So, why was the deal made now CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank is in Washington. Paul, is the timing of this deal is significant? And if
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, we don't know about the
timing. But what we do know is that for months Qatar has worked to broker this deal between the al Qaeda Syrian affiliate Jubhat al-Nusra on the one
side and the Lebanese government on the other side. The 16 soldiers were captured by
Jubhat al-Nusra in the north Baka (ph) Valley in August 2014. And it's taken a long time since then to negotiate their release. There have been
several false starts during that time.
But clearly, today they've managed to get a breakthrough. They've done the exchange. And included in this exchange is the estranged ex-wife
of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was married to him about six years ago very briefly but during that time, he fathered a daughter with her and this
daughter had also been detained in Lebanon with her back in December when she was arrested.
And is now also free to go, Becky.
Her family ties these days are to Jubhat al Nusra rather than ISIS. These are two groups who are at each other's throats. Her brother is a
senior commander in Jubhat al Nusra and her new husband is also believed to be linked to the group. And that's why Jubhat al Nusra would have wanted
her to be released because of her very close family ties into the organization.
ANDERSON: Given Qatar's role in the negotiation, wasn't there reported ties to these groups that sealed the deal?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, Qatar has acted as a broker several times before. I mean, we saw that with some of those Taliban detainees who were in
Guantanamo who some of them are now in Qatar.
Qatar over the years has built a relationship with various Islamists groups and also has a relationship with some of the groups fighting in
Syria. They deny that they give direct funding to some of the more radical groups, but diplomats have long spoken about these relationships, Becky.
ANDERSON: Paul, the Lebanese prime minister has just confirmed to us on CNN that they do want to negotiate the release of nine soldiers, nine
Lebanese soldiers still being held by ISIS in Syria. Without any direct contact on the side of the Lebanese, who brokers any deal with ISIS, for
CRUICKSHANK: Well, that's got to be very difficult, indeed. But we have seen ISIS in the past broker deals for hostages, prisoner swaps,
including one dealing with Turkey a year or two ago where some Turkish diplomats who had been
held in Mosul and others were free to get some ISIS prisoners out of jail in Turkey.
So, it has been done before. There are middle men that can broker these kind of things. So, I think it's going to be a lot more difficult to
broker a deal with ISIS. We've seen them execute, behead prisoners in the past. And it's this growing concern across Lebanon about the threat that
ISIS poses in the country. We saw those twin suicide bombings in Beirut just last month that killed over 40. That was a cell directly dispatched
from Syria to Beirut to carry out that attack. And I think there's more of that probably coming.
ISIS is hoping to unleash greater sectarian discord in Lebanon. They want to export the Syrian civil war to Lebanon. That attack in the
Hezbollah neighborhood last month was designed so that Hezbollah would react very vociferously. And you would then have a sort of cycle of
violence, potentially, between the various sectarian communities.
So far, Lebanon hasn't gone into the deluge of the Syrian civil war. You've had the leaders of the various different sectarian groups who have
established a certain modus vivendi between them. Many of these leaders have grown kind of rich and comfortable as the leaders of their sectarian
group. And they all remember what happened during the Lebanese civil war. So, there's been a resistance for allowing violence to escalate too much in
ANDERSON: Let me get back to the story of the prisoner swap. These aren't uncommon, of course. In December of 2014 Cuba released U.S.
government contractor Alan Gross, it was part of a landmark deal to ease sanctions and thaw U.S. relations with Cuba. The U.S. released three Cuban
intelligence agents at the same time.
In May last year, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he released five Taliban detainees from Gauntanamo Bay, our viewers will remember.
That was in exchange for U.S. prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl. Berdahl captured by the Taliban in 2009 in Afghanistan.
And in 2011, Hamas agreed to exchange Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit was captured when his military post
was stormed by Palestinian militants crossing into Israel through tunnels.
Paul, al Nusra, who negotiated with Lebanon, brokered by Qatar, have carried out similar prisoner swaps before. Why is it that this group is
open to swaps?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, al Qaeda, believe it or not, is sort of moving into somewhat more moderate direction, certainly when you compare it to
ISIS. They want to increasingly appeal to a broader base of support in the Muslim world. And so we're seeing some of these initiatives from the
Also the group saying that it's not going to target places where Muslims congregate, that it's going to ban certain practices like filmed
beheadings and not descend into the same kind of violence we're seeing from ISIS.
We even just the other day saw al Qaeda in Yemen apologize and offer to pay blood money for a tribal figure that they say they accidentally
killed in the country in Yemen.
So, there's an attempt by ISIS -- sorry, an attempt by al Qaeda to win hearts and minds as part of their long-term strategy to create Islamic rule
across the Middle East.
[11:40:24] ANDERSON: Paul Cruickshank is out of Washington or you this evening. Thank you, Paul.
CRUICKSHANK: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Let's turn to the race for the White House now and politicians on both sides of the aisle outraged when Donald Trump appeared
to mock a New York Times reporter with a disability at a recent rally.
Republican candidate used an article written by the journalist to justify his claim that thousands of Muslim-Americans celebrated the
September 11th attacks.
Well, our Jake Tapper asked Michael Cohen about the incident. Cohen is the executive vice president of the Trump organization. Have a watch
and a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Trump cited this report from 2001 in the Washington Post from Serg Kovaleski. Kovaleski is a reporter. He suffers
from a condition that limits movement in his arms.
Now, this is Trump at a rally talking about this reporter.
TRUMP: Talk about northern New Jersey, draws the prober's eye -- written by a nice reporter.
Now, the poor guy, you've got to see this guy, I don't know what I said. I don't remember. He's going like, I don't remember. Maybe that's
what I said.
TAPPER: all right. Let's put up, there's a still photo of Donald Trump and
a picture of Mr. Kovaleski. Now Mr. Trump insists he was not making fun of his Kovaleski's disability and he doesn't remember even meeting Kovaleski
who covered him in the past.
But at that...
MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: do you know, jake, how many people do you think have covered Donald Trump in the past? Thousands upon
TAPPER: How many people with that disability? I would guess one.
COHEN: Do you really think that Mr. Trump remembers this specific reporter?
TAPPER: He said..
COHEN: Mr. Trump himself said he does not remember.
TAPPER: You said he has a fantastic memory.
COHEN: He most certainly does.
He sees thousands and thousands of reporters a year.
TAPPER: But he said -- Michael, he said this was written by a nice reporter.
COHEN: Mr. Trump...
TAPPER: You've got to see this guy.
COHEN: He was talking about the article until he ended up pulling it back which he did for whatever the reason that he did.
But let me say this...
TAPPER: He said you've got to see this guy and then he mimics his injury.
COHEN: Mr. Trump donates millions and millions of dollars each and every year in order to combat disabilities, in order to combat cancer,
whether it's children, he donates millions of dollars a year. Mr. Trump is not the type of
individual that's going to make fun of somebody's disability. He wouldn't know this guy prior to this entire nonsense.
TAPPER: But we just saw him do it. We just saw him make fun of his disability.
COHEN: He was not making fun, he was being gesticulate, which Donald Trump is. And he was basically showing the exasperation of a reporter
that's pulling back on a story, exasperation and basically saying something like, oh, now I don't
remember, now I don't remember. It had nothing to do with his disability.
TAPPER: And it just so happened -- first of all he said he was a nice guy. And then he said you have got to see this guy and then he twists his
arms to mimic the disability.
COHEN: He wasn't twisting his arm to mimic anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So, what are Trump's chances of winning the Republican nomination? Well, our senior reporter Steven Colinson looks at the
possibilities in a new piece for CNN.com. You can find it at CNN.com/politics.
You're watching Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi. Coming up, did this selfie have anything to do with a deal worth hundreds of millions of
dollars? We'll take a look at that up next.
And just a few weeks away from the release of the new Star Wars film and the force is strong at Madam Tussaud's in London. We're going to get
you a look around up next.
[11:47:10] ANDERSON: This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. 47 minutes past 8:00 here in the UAE.
Chinese investors are said to buy a 13 percent stake in the Abu Dhabi based group that owns several football clubs, including the English Premier
League team Manchester City. The deal is worth $400 million. The group's current owner Sheikh Mansur paid about that for the entire club back in
My colleague John Defterios sat down with the group's chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and began by asking him to explain the deal.
KHALDOON AL MUBARAK, CHAIRMAN, CITY FOOTBALL GROUP: This has been a strategy in terms of our global investment in football through City
Football Group taht we've been pursuing for years. China is the next obviously important market to be involved in. Having the right partner in
China is critical. And I think what we've achieved through this transaction is bringing in a quality partner into City Football Group, a
strong partner in China that will invest with us in the business of a growing City Football Proup and allow us, I think, a very important
advantage in playing within the Chinese market.
Because China is the future and City Football Group will be involved in China.
DEFTERIOS: It took months to secure this transaction and it happened very shortly after the visit of President Xi Jinping to the UK and going to
Man City to catch a football match. Was that instrumental for everybody to see the bigger potential here in the partnership.
MUBARAK: We've been working on China for years. And this transaction particularly has been in negotiations for months. So I think that was a
nice visit for sure. We were proud of the visit of the prime minister of the UK and President Xi to Manchester City Football Club. But this transaction
particularly has been worked on before that visit.
DEFTERIOS: Many were wondering why you were building a global platform for football. So, if you look at it from a business business
standpoint, building a global platform going to New York to Australia to Japan and now to China, is this
affirmation with the valuation that indeed you have a bigger picture that is giong to work?
MUBARAK: absolutely. I think we've defined the strategy. We've executed on the strategy over the last couple years and now we're showing
how the strategy has been valued by other investors.
DEFTERIOS: And this even includes an academy in China. So, there's potential to have almost a training ground for the Chinese students of
MUBARAK: there's a lot of potential China across the board. And I firmly believe in football in China long term. And this is the beginning
of a journey for us into China.
ANDERSON: We'll take a short break. Stay with us.
Coming up, your delight and delectation, the new Star Wars film is released in a few weeks time. We're going to take a look around Madam
Tussaud's in London where the famous characters have been re-created.
[11:53:04] ANDERSON: Well, in tonight's parting shots for you just before we go, excitement is building out of the new Star Wars movie for
fans. The movie The Force Awakens, some which was filmed right here in the UAE. And London fans already feeling the force. The world famous Madam
Tussaud's set up its own exhibition creating the most iconic scenes and characters. So we went to have a look.
DAVID BURKES, MADAME TUSSAUD'S SENIOR SCULPTOR: It's such a huge honor to be invited to go to the archives and to see all the remaining
props and costumes and models that have been saved from the original and subsequent films.
Everywhere you look you recognize a different spaceship or a different costume.
JAMES BURNS, JEDI NEWS FOUNDER: Jabba is not a small creature. So, to be able to re-create in the way they have and to do him so well is
incredible. And it's really, really great to see him on his throne with Princess Leia by his side and also Selacious Crumb, his wonderful side kick
sitting there acting as a court jester.
BURKES: He doesn't exist anymore. His puppet and whole build of him has unfortunately disintegrated. But things like that, he has a small
remaining piece of his arm that still survives with a tattoo on it. So, we were able to measure that particular piece of reference and give us a clue
and idea of how big we needed to make him.
BURNS: One of my favorites is Chewie. Chewie is a huge fan favorite. And it's great that they've managed to bring Chewie to life in such an
It took over 1,000 hours to put each individual hair into Chewbacca.
[11:55:02] RICK WESTWOOD, STAR WARS FAN: The character are absolutely stunning. Up close to them, you half expect them to move, especially here
sat across from Hans Solo. You half expect him to whip out the blaster and shoot you across the table. It's now uncannily life-like.
They've done a tremendous job of recreating these little snapshots of the scenes from the movie.
BURKES: Yoda, again, another puppet that everyone knows and loves and knows exactly what he looks like. So, people will know if we didn't get it
fight right. But I think we've done an amazing job.
WESTWOOD: My personal favorite is Return of the Jedi scene with Luke facing off against Vader with Emperor Palpatine lurking in the background
looming over everything. It's a really visually striking scene, because it's a very dark scene apart from the sabers cross as soon as you pop
around turn the corner. It really hits you.
Star Wars it's a film that sort of transcends genre and age. Everyone knows it and pretty much everyone loves it. It's just got a sort of basic
appeal that everyone can find something to enjoy.
ANDERSON: Are you a fan? I know millions of you are. Let us know your thoughts. Send us your opinions. You can always follow the stories
that the teams are working on throughout the day by using Facebook.com/cnnconnect.
And you can tweet me up @beckycnn. That's it from us. CNN, though, does of course continue after this short break.