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Connect the World

Iran Launching Missile Strikes in Iraq and Syria; Iran Claims to Hit ISIS in Syria; Houthis Striking a Cargo Ship Owned by U.S. in the Red Sea; Qatari and Saudi Officials Calls for a Halt in Israel's Aggression; Interview with Iraqi Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Fuad Hussein; Turning the UAE into a World Trading Power; World Bank Predicts Global Economic Slowdown in 2024; Interview with UAE's Minister of State of Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi; SailGP Comes to Abu Dhabi; CNN Speaks to CEO of A.I. Tech Giant G42; Zelenskyy Speaking at the World Economic Forum; A.I. Fever Grips World Economic Forum; Interview with G42 CEO Peng Xiao; Trump Wins Iowa; Asa Hutchinson Suspends His Presidential Campaign. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 16, 2024 - 10:00:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, hello and welcome to what is a special edition of "Connect the World" with me, Becky Anderson, live from

the World Economic Forum in Davos in Switzerland.

More than 60 heads of state in attendance here discussing the state of our global economy and the geopolitical tensions impacting our world. And it's


The crisis in the Middle East, top of the conversation here, with further signs of the conflict expanding beyond Israel and Gaza.


Today, Iran claims to have hit ISIS in Syria and destroyed a base for Israel's spy agency Mossad in Erbil in Northern Iraq. At least four

civilians were killed in Erbil, according to local officials. The United States condemned Iran for what it called a reckless and imprecise set of


Well, this comes on the heels of the Houthis striking a cargo ship owned and operated by the United States in the Red Sea, according to U.S. Central

Command. This appears to be the first time the Iran aligned militia has successfully hit a U.S. vessel.

Remember, just a few days ago, a U.S.-led coalition hit dozens of targets in Houthi controlled Yemen, warning of further strikes if Houthis continue

their attacks in the Red Sea. And we are also learning the U.S. Navy seized Iranian made ballistic missiles off the coast of Somalia that it says were

destined for the Houthis in Yemen. Two Navy SEALs are missing after going overboard in last week's operation.

Well, here in Davos, Qatari and Saudi officials are calling for a halt in Israel's aggression in Gaza. The Qatari prime minister says attacks against

the Houthis will create further escalation.


MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER: We always prefer diplomacy over any military resolutions. And we believe that we shouldn't

just focus on those small conflicts. We should focus on the main conflict in Gaza. And as soon as it's diffused, I believe everything else will be


PRINCE FAISAL BIN FARHAN, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: We think the priority needs to be de-escalation, de-escalation in the Red Sea, but in the entire

region. And we are going to engage to make that happen. And part of that, of course, is also making sure that we engage with all stakeholders.


ANDERSON: Well, the Saudi foreign minister went on to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Things are complicated and worrying. I have

the Iraqi foreign minister, Fuad Hussein, here with me to discuss all of these developments. And we will start with the Iranian strikes on both Iraq

and Syria.

Iran says it carried out precise and targeted strikes on what it says were terrorist headquarters in Idlib in Syria and a Mossad affiliated center in

Erbil, Iraq. You have summoned the Iranian charge d'affaires in Baghdad to protest against the attacks as has the U.S., and others.

Were there Mossad affiliated centers operating in Erbil?

FUAD HUSSEIN, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER AND DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ: Of course not. They -- yesterday, they attacked Erbil and they attacked

civilian areas inside Erbil. And they attacked a house with -- and killed, I think, four people, and six people has been injured. And they are all

Iraqi Kurds. And well-known Kurds in the city.

ANDERSON: This comes on the heel of the recent U.S. drone attack in Baghdad. How can Iraq ensure it doesn't become the stage in what is an

escalating -- it feels, escalating regional conflict here?

HUSSEIN: It is unfortunate. The tension between Washington and Tehran. Usually when there is tension between these two countries the Iraqis are

paying the price. And the fight is going on Iraqi soil.

And now, the tension between Israelis and the Iranians, also, is the same. That's why the Iranian, they don't want or they cannot attack Israel. Then

they are searching for victims around them. So, they are attacking Erbil.

ANDERSON: What can Iraq do at this point? What's your response?

HUSSEIN: In the first place, we condemn -- we are condemning these attacks. And we consider it as an aggression and against international law,

violation of international law. So, we took various measures and we are going also to Security Council in New York.

ANDERSON: What do you think the U.N. Security Council will achieve?

HUSSEIN: I think there will be huge support for Iraqi position against Iran. Iran is, in fact, isolated from the world. So, if Iraq is going to

Security Council, and Iraq has been considered as an ally to Iran, then it will create huge problem inside Tehran.


ANDERSON: You've talked about the escalating tension between the U.S. and Iran, and you're pinpointing Gaza as part of that. We've also been

reporting on the attacks in the Red Sea and the U.S.-led coalition's response to that.

There is certainly a since in the Gulf region, the wider Middle East, a real sense of, one, frustration and concern about the Biden

administration's position on what is going on. From many, they say -- well, we know we've had calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. Many who have said, what

is the Biden administration's long-term plan for both Gaza and indeed for the wider region to really ensure that we don't see this wider escalation.

Do you share those regional concerns and frustrations?

HUSSEIN: Let me first mention the situation in Gaza. The war against the people in Gaza, it created a huge problem, not only for the Palestinian

people, but also for the entire region. So, to stop the war and to increase and open the door for more humanitarian aid for Gaza, that will help.

So, stopping the war in Gaza and putting more pressure on Netanyahu's government, that would be the first step to reach -- into a situation with

less tension in the region.

But as for the United States policy, I understand that now the whole process of election has started, in fact. And this is up to United States

government, which kind of policy they are developing. But one thing --

ANDERSON: It has an impact.

HUSSEIN: One thing I may say.

ANDERSON: It has an impact on the region.

HUSSEIN: One thing I must say. Of course, it has impact on the region and on the situation. The whole region is under fire. The whole region is under

fire. So, without playing -- and good role and having partners in the region and clear policy, that means we are heading towards really huge

conflicts in the region and perhaps wars in the region.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about those partnerships. Because to a certain extent, the U.S. will see Iraq as a partner. Earlier this month, your prime

minister said that Baghdad is beginning the process to remove U.S.-led forces, U.S.-led military forces, in a quick and orderly negotiated exit.

That was the day after a high-ranking leader of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, of course, was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

Are you negotiating a timeline at this point to have American troops leave Iraq?

HUSSEIN: In fact, we are negotiating with the administration in Washington to start negotiations. So, we are negotiating how to start.

I think we reached some positive steps. And I hope that within a short time we can announce that we will start our negotiation. When we will establish

this process, then, of course, we can discuss matters related to the American forces or the allies forces inside Iraq, and when they can move

and how they are going to be treated in the future, and how we can establish bilateral relationship with all these countries in the --

ANDERSON: What are we talking about here? Give me a time frame.

HUSSEIN: It is up to the American if they will agree about starting negotiation, we are ready to start tomorrow.

ANDERSON: The Americans say that they are -- they're at the invitation, of course, of the Iraqi government before the 7th -- October the 7th Hamas

attack triggered this latest regional standoff. The prime minister told me that he wanted to pursue a strategic relationship with the U.S. Has that

now changed?

HUSSEIN: No. Still, we want to have very good and strategic relationship with the U.S. But we want to have a healthy and normal relationship between

two countries. So, that's why starting a new process of negotiation and the first place announcing that, it will be in the interest of both countries

and it will be also in the interest of the region.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you, sir.

HUSSEIN: Thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much indeed --

HUSSEIN: Thanks. Bye-bye.

ANDERSON: -- for joining us.

HUSSEIN: Bye-bye.

ANDERSON: An important day.

HUSSEIN: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Well, here at Davos this week, there are predictions of doom and gloom over the resilience of the global economy. Later in the hour, I'm

going to speak with a UAE minister who, despite the bleak outlook, has turned his country into a global trading power. More on that after this.



ANDERSON: Well, as the world's rich and powerful gather this week here in Switzerland -- Davos in Switzerland, they do so amid the backdrop of

conflict, including Russia's war on Ukraine and the Israel, Hamas war.

And amid rather grim predictions, it has to be said, for the outlook of the world economy, the World Bank says economic growth could slow for the third

straight year. In fact, it forecasts the weakest growth performance of any half decade since the 1990s. Much of the same doom and gloom from an annual

survey by the World Economic Forum, which predicts a, and I quote here, "precarious year" ahead for the global economy.

Well, despite that, my next guest is charting a path for growth for his country and striking deals that allow the UAE to expand its non-oil sector.

He's the man who's cutting all the UAE bilateral trade deals. UAE's Minister of State foreign Trade, Thani Al Zeyoudi, joins me here in Davos.

Sir, a pretty anemic forecast, it has to be said, from both WEF and the World Bank when it comes to global GDP growth this year. Do you share that

gloomy outlook? I mean, certainly, you know, a sluggish global growth story is included in that. You know, and against that backdrop, what's your

forecast for the UAE?

THANI AL ZEYOUDI, UAE'S MINISTER OF STATE OF FOREIGN TRADE: Let's see. OK, again. Let's go back a year ago. And that was last year. Everyone was very

pessimistic about the global growth, and there will be -- there would be a recession throughout 2023. We ended up the year without recession.

So, we're starting the year of 2024 with the same almost this mistake. But no, there will be growth. It won't be as much, but at least we're going go

toward the right direction hopefully.

For the year, we are we had an excellent year. The growth was excellent. The average growth of our GDP is around 3.4 to 3.8 with a good growth in

our non-oil foreign trade. We had a growth as well in our service exports and imports. We had an excellent growth in our talent attraction. So, we

ended up the year with an excellent performance in all factors.

ANDERSON: What's the forecast for this year?

AL ZEYOUDI: This year is going to be continuing the growth. We're, like, expecting a growth more than what we achieved in 2023.

ANDERSON: That's really interesting because that sort of goes against the grain, as it were, of countries in other parts of the world. Over the past

couple of years, UAE has very intentionally pivoted towards regional de- escalation in favor of sort of business and trade. It makes economic sense as UAE is concerned, focused on business and trade the signing of the

Abraham Accords and more business and trade with Israel, and at the same time more business and trade with Iran of light.


In light of those decisions or in light of what is going on around the region at this point, in this sort of sense of, you know escalation,

potential escalation in the conflict that is present in Gaza. Is that the right positioning? Was that a good strategy from the UAE?

AL ZEYOUDI: Well, we have to focus on our vision. And our vision is to continue the growth and the development. If we're going to be distracted

with such major stuff that's happening in the region, we'll not achieve our goals.

So, we're living in a region which has been going through a major event for the last 20 years. Did that distract us? No. We continue with the same

vision continuity. What's going to be next? We're going to continue our openness, reaching out to countries, diversifying our international

investments, diversifying our local investments and reaching out to new partners.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about those new partners. Building on the UAE's position as a global trade and logistics hub, which is key to the country's

long-term economic growth story. You have been strengthening ties with countries around the world through what are known as CEPAs, these

Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements. A lot of people might refer to those as sort of FDA's plus plus or FDA's on steroids.

Can you just explain where you are signing those? With whom? And what the impact is on the trade and economic growth story for the UAE and where you

see the future for those, east or west?

AL ZEYOUDI: Well, so far, we concluded 13 agreements in two years with countries beating each other when it comes to the timeline. We always get

into an agreement with the countries that we have to do it in a short period. Otherwise, the global economy is changing. Our domestic economies

are changing and will not be able to reflect whatever we agreed at the beginning on the negotiation so far.

How we're going to move by 2024 and moving forward, we want to reach to 90 percent of the global trade. And this year, we're going to focus heavily on

Africa, some of the far east of Asia and Latin Americas. We're about to close a few countries as well very soon. So, the first quarter of this year

is going to have a couple of agreements, which is almost at the final touches. Usually, the final one is critical.

ANDERSON: India is a big CEPA.


ANDERSON: And it fits the story that the UAE sort of strategy in better strategic relations with a country like India. It feels like this is an

Africa story, as you point out, but it's an Asia story as well. Where else do you look at this point?

AL ZEYOUDI: Well, let me give you some numbers here. Last year, 2023 until the end of September, our non-oil trade numbers grew by 12.2 percent.

Although the whole world went in a decline. This is basically because of the movements that which we did and the openness which we had to the whole

ecosystem in the UAE.

India, we're moving ahead toward the $100 billion bilateral trade, and things are progressing --

ANDERSON: By 2025?

AL ZEYOUDI: By 2030. Flow of investment from both sides is growing. We're the largest investor in India last year. And this year, we'll be exploring

more investments, especially with the visit of his highness, (INAUDIBLE) Zayed to India last week. And we're going to continue with that.

What is the impact of CEPAs? Growth and investments. Growth of the number of billionaires moving and shifting to the UAE. And we had 5,000

billionaires shifted to the UAE this -- last year, 2023. Another expectation this year as well to continue.

It shows that the impact is not only in trade and goods, but also the movements of brains and the innovation, the investment and the capital flow

to the country is consequences of CEPAs.

ANDERSON: We'll keep an eye on the strategy. I mean, it's certainly playing well at the time when the global trade story, as I say, is slightly

sluggish. Concerns, obviously, about global trade in the Red Sea. At present, you've certainly talked to me about that. Thank you very much,

indeed, for joining us.

AL ZEYOUDI: Thank you.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you.

AL ZEYOUDI: All is good (ph).

ANDERSON: When you think of race weekend in Abu Dhabi, Formula One comes to mind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's carnage on the start line. Nearly the whole fleet over the line.


ANDERSON: Sport in town. And it is not on land, it is on the waves. Climb aboard after this short break.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching "Connect the World" with me, Becky Anderson. Special edition out of Davos for you.

Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now. And Iran has extended the prison sentence of Nobel Peace

Prize winner and human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi. This is according to her family. They say she was given an additional 15 months and other

restrictions on charges of spreading propaganda. Her sentences now add up to more than 12 years.

Kim Jong Un is calling for a change to North Korea's constitution, redefining South Korea as its number one hostile country and permanent

enemy. North Korean state media reports Kim also wants to abolish government agencies that worked towards reconciliation with the south.

The suspected leader of a cult in Kenya will be charged in the deaths of hundreds of followers. Prosecutors say 94 others will also be charged. 429

bodies were found in a forest in Eastern Kenya last month. Most had starved to death. The charges include murder and terrorism.

A little bit of light relief for you at this stage. You know that I am normally based in Abu Dhabi. Well, this weekend passed saw a new sport come

to down. The SailGP is advertised as the fastest race on water. It launched its first event in the UAE capital. These boats you see, F50 catamarans,

the highlight for fans. They can reach up to 100 kilometers an hour when foiling out of the water.

You might be wondering what foiling itself is or how these boats work in general. Well, I was sat at the Mabadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix

presented by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to find out.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Faster and riskier --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a bit of action.

ANDERSON (voice-over): -- than almost anything you've seen before on water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, wow. Did you see, they've given up space.

ANDERSON (voice-over): This SailGP. When you think of race weekend here in Abu Dhabi, Formula One comes to mind, but there's a new sport in town.


ANDERSON: They call it the most exciting race on water. Ten huge catamarans, like the one that is being craned into the water here behind

me, duke it out on the waters around the UAE capital at speeds, let me tell you, of up to 100 kilometers an hour.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the latest edition to the 13-race calendar this year. Two days of winner takes all

adrenaline-fueled racing around a course just meters away from a grandstand packed with fans. Silhouetted by the city's skyline. A clear draw for the

Abu Dhabi based sovereign wealth fund. A new partner in the global sailing series.

Homaid Al Shimmari is Mubadala's Deputy Group, CEO. He tells me why this partnership makes sense.

HOMAID AL SHIMMARI, DEPUTY GROUP CEO, MUBADALA: 25 percent of our portfolio sits in Abu Dhabi. This a geography that is important for us. The

culture of the UAE is entrenched in the water sailing, diving. So, heritage is there. But then you bring SailGP with all of its technologies. This

closer to my background of aeronautics rather than sailing, to be honest with you.

Getting new technologies into how we live better, how we sustain this planet better. SailGP fits that. So, here's a fun race, a lot of

technologies, sustainability, a responsible investor, and it takes all of the boxes for us.

We have a long-term commitment with SailGP. We're going to make Abu Dhabi the -- from season five to the final race, just like the Formula One. We

want to be there.

ANDERSON (voice-over): These F50 catamarans are the big draw for fans. Costing around $5 million to build. They don't just float, they fly.

ANDERSON: Right. Well, let's go meet Nicole, who is Spain's SailGP's boat strategist. I'm Becky.

NICOLE VAN DER VELDEN, STRATEGIST, SPAIN SAILGP TEAM: Hi. The movement all comes from the sail. So, it's all the wind what propels us forward. And

then it's the speed and the foils what then gets us up and moving.

ANDERSON: For those who don't know anything about foiling, this one of the most exciting things about what is this growing sport. So, just explain

what we mean when we talk about foiling.

VAN DER VELDEN: Yes, so foiling is actually combining a bit like flying to the sailing sport. So, it has the -- it's the same concept as an airplane,

as an airplane wing.


VAN DER VELDEN: So, basically, what the foil does is the water, when it moves through the foil, it creates a difference in speed going above and

below the same as an airplane wing. And when that difference gets bigger, the speed gets bigger and you start getting lift up on the foil.

Have you ever been in one? Let's get you inside. So, we'll get you here in the driver's position.

ANDERSON: This sort of air traffic control, right?

VAN DER VELDEN: Yes, exactly. So, you would then be the person in charge.


VAN DER VELDEN: These little wheels are what lets you fly the boat. So, with that, you're basically moving the foil forward and back, creating more

or less lift, so the boat gets higher or lower.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Nicole is the only female member on the Spanish team. A requirement for SailGP teams and their commitment to promote


ANDERSON: All of you lot are here on the Inspire course. How are you enjoying yourselves? Yes, is it good?


ANDERSON: Is it amazing?

ANDERSON (voice-over): And it's Inspire Program aims to bring young participants into the sport.

RUSSELL COUTTS, CEO, SAILGP: We're trying to achieve more inclusivity. So, that's about our Inspire Program and our Women's Pathway Program. And if

you look at what the results we've achieved there, we now have female athletes sailing on all of our teams. We now are training female athletes

at every event.

In terms of the Inspire Program, which is broken down to careers and learning and also experiences, we've had more than 15,000 young people

through the program.

ANDERSON (voice-over): SailGP is the brainchild of Russell Coutts. One of the biggest names in sailing, he's an Olympic champion and five times

America's Cup winner. And he has seen it all.

ANDERSON: When you think back to when you were sailing, and I remember you sailing back in the mid-80s, and you look at these boats now, how far have

we come?

COUTTS: Oh, this is really a whole new dimension. And the moment that the boats got out of the water and on foils and started to go so fast, I think

that really spared the interest of a much wider group of people.


So, you know, to compare what I used to race in to what they're racing in today is -- it's almost like two different sports. But having said that,

the same skills apply, it's just happening a lot faster.


COUTTS: We're now starting to introduce other forms of entertainment as part of that package. So, you know, we've got to Take That performing at

this event.

It's been elitist. And we wanted to break down all of those barriers and really bring it closer to the people and provide more entertainment around

our racing. So, our racing is a short format, packaged into a 90-minute broadcast window.

ANDERSON: You talk about, you know, introducing sailing to a new audience, like really engaging a new audience a much more inclusive sport. Is that

being shown through the numbers?

COUTTS: Well, our audience -- if you compare season two to season three, our broadcast audience grew three times through our dedicated viewership.

So, the team's values are growing enormously as well. So, we're now selling these teams for pretty significant numbers.

ANDERSON: How much?

COUTTS: And -- well, you know, the latest team sold for $35 million. And we have a lot of interest in new teams, expanding the number of teams from

10 to 12. It's how far can we get in the time frame. I think we've had to reset our expectations because we've -- you know, we've had a fortunate

position of growing faster than what we thought we would.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Tested by challenging light winds, Nicole and her team battled it out against the U.S. and New Zealand in the final,

ultimately ending up as runners up behind the triumphant Kiwis in front of a packed crowd of new fans of a sport making waves on the global calendar.


ANDERSON (on camera): I'm Becky Anderson. In Davos today, back from the racing there, well, the CIA reportedly has a classified profile on my next

guest. I'll be asking the CEO of artificial intelligence giant G42 if he believes the company is somehow caught up in the U.S. China A.I. race. That

is just ahead.


ANDERSON: Well, a wartime president is making his pitch here at Davos, facing an audience filled with some of the richest and most powerful people

on the planet. Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared that if anyone thinks the war in Ukraine is only about Ukraine, they are, he said,

fundamentally wrong. He also stressed that escalation worries in the West have lost Kyiv time in its struggle against Russia's Vladimir Putin.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: In fact, Putin embodies war. We all know that he is the sole reason why various wars and conflicts persist,

and why all attempts to restore peace have failed. And he will not change. He will not change. We must change.



ANDERSON: Well, Ukraine try not to fall through the political cracks as the world deals with one crisis, it seems, after another, from the Middle

East to the climate crisis.

And then there is A.I. fever signs and branding for artificial intelligence all over Davos. Everywhere you look up here on the mountain, it is the talk

of the town. And you probably already know.

A.I. is controversial, so controversial that the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2024 ranks A.I.-derived dis and misinformation ahead of

climate change, war, and economic weakness. And that's worrying in a year of what can only be described as fraught elections. Some more than 60

elections this year all over the world.

A.I. tech company, G42, controlled by the UAE's ruling family, has made some waves in Washington over reports of alleged ties to Beijing. The tech

giant has been furiously denying any links with the Chinese government.

My next guest is the head of G42, Peng Xiao. Welcome to "Connect the World" at Davos.

Before we talk about G42, the U.S., the U.S. and its concerns about your ties -- your alleged ties with China and the sort of, you know, U.S. China

A.I. arms race, as it were, I just want to get your sense of where we are at with A.I.

Every investor note that I have read looking into 2024 and beyond has got A.I. or A.I. applications across sectors at the top of the investor note.

This absolutely red hot at present. I know this your first time to Davos. What have you seen here? And tell us where are the opportunities and where

are the challenges?

PENG XIAO, CEO, G24: Well, Becky, first, thank you for this opportunity to be here. My road to Davos started a few months ago in the UAE, during COP28

in Dubai, I met many global leaders. Just like this event here, in COP28, the topic was A.I.

I remember a conversation with a group of global leaders. We talked about A.I. being the single most important human invention since our discovery

and master of fire. And with that, it is true, A.I. has great potential for good. But if we don't manage it properly, out of control, it can do great

damage as well.

So, yesterday, my first session here in Davos, I was at this wonderful forum called A.I. House Davos. One of my co-panelists, my good friend, Bill

Ford, from General Atlantic, on stage. He talked about, as an investor, how they are looking at A.I. In fact, not just looking. They are now a

practitioner in the air domain. He taught the whole audience in his I.C., the Investment Committee, there is a new A.I. board members, helping to go

through decades of the data of all the company he's evaluating and making decision in real-time together with his I.C.

ANDERSON: What was your message?

XIAO: I think if you are a company, if you are a government, a nation state, you don't have A.I. strategy, you are lost.

I was talking to my chairman recently, his highness, (INAUDIBLE). We don't really care in our portfolio if every company has great five-year business

plan, showing us great cash return, but if they don't have a A.I. plan for the next five to 10 years, they don't belong in our portfolio, because A.I.

will disrupt every single sector.

ANDERSON: You have partnered with a number of big U.S. companies, OpenAI, Microsoft. A U.S. Congressional Committee has recently asked the Commerce

Department to consider trade restrictions on G42 because of what they are alleging are your company's ties to China and the risks that poses to U.S.

national security. What's your response to that?

XIAO: You just mentioned this earlier back yourself that disinformation and misinformation is a top risk of this year, as which is agreed with the

other 1,500 global leaders here at Davos. It's unfortunate. I think we just witnessed a case of misinformation, how we are being classified as such a

company. We fully deny those allegations. We published it on our website as well.

I do understand where their thinking is coming from. As I mentioned earlier, A.I. is such a powerful new technology. It's unknown in terms of

full potential. Naturally, there's a fear. When there's a fear, there are people trying to take advantage of it and position one party versus the


We are, I think, unfortunately caught in this, what you described earlier, geopolitical stage. UAE has always been a nation of neutrality. And G42 as

a national technology champion has always been neutral as well. We work with many companies around the world.


But when it comes to advanced technology like A.I., we made our decision since 2022 to partner with the best in the world, and they are the likes of

OpenAI and Microsoft. We've been working with them diligently over the years. And not becoming that channel, so to speak, to pass information to

different parties.

ANDERSON: Are you getting caught up in a U.S. China A.I. arms race? Is there any merit to the U.S. intelligence community's concerns about the

company? And if not, is that where this at?

XIAO: I can't speak for really what U.S. government is really thinking, because I don't know for sure. I hope they get all the facts straight, and

we're opening a dialogue to have a conversation with them.

But I can tell you, UAE is not in a race vis-a-vis with anyone. UAE is on its own path. UAE is racing ahead in the world of A.I. I think for two

major reasons. Number one, it's a country with limited human resources. It's a small population. We can't rely on humans to do everything for us.

That's why, as early as eight, nine years ago, as a nation, we decided we must create our A.I. ministry. We also created MBZ University of Artificial

Intelligence, the first one in the world. So, we've been building all this additional source of intelligence and support for our national economy.

Second reason is that we are a country historically rooted in fossil fuel. You saw this theme we discussed in COP28. But we also want to celebrate the

last barrel of oil. We believe there need to be new resources we can leverage to grow our economy.

So, for these two reasons, we are doubling down on the development of A.I. And we are very lucky to be able to work with global partners like

Microsoft and OpenAI.

ANDERSON: You're working with AMG. I know that.

XIAO: Yes.

ANDERSON: So, you're working A.I. through sport. I know that we were just showing a piece about SailGP, which has just come to Abu Dhabi. Big new,

exciting sport. There are 12,000 or more data points on every single one of those boats. And you're explaining to me that that is exciting. That's

where it's at. It's where that data is at.

XIAO: That is the future. Yes.

ANDERSON: It's good to have.

XIAO: Great.

ANDERSON: We'll speak again. Thank you, sir.

XIAO: Thank you so much. Yes.

ANDERSON: Taking a short break. Back after this.


ANDERSON: Donald Trump is now officially the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination after his historic win in Iowa on

Monday. The question was, would he get at least 50 percent of the vote at the caucuses? And he did.

The former president dominated the first Republican competition, as all eyes now move to New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary


But before he goes to New Hampshire, today Trump is in a New York court room, as the second defamation trial brought by columnist E. Jean. Carroll

gets underway.

And it's just in, after finishing last in the Iowa caucuses, Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced that he is suspending his


Let's get you to CNN Political Reporter Steve Contorno. He joins us now from Des Moines in Iowa. And very briefly, because we're hitting the back

of the show here, what are your key take outs from last night, apart from the obvious?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Well, Becky, I was at the DeSantis campaign headquarters last night where they were watching closely the results come

in. And one of the numbers they we're looking at was whether Donald Trump would eclipse 50 percent, because that really hurts this narrative that

both Haley and DeSantis have been trying to claim that a majority of Republican voters are rejecting Donald Trump, and that wasn't the case last


He had this resounding lead that left them in a distant second place. And now, DeSantis and Haley are again continuing to fight over this position of

being a Trump alternative. DeSantis today in South Carolina, on Nikki Haley's home turf, taking the grace to her home state. Listen to what he




GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like Haley, look, she was governor here for six years. Can you name major

achievements under her tenure? I mean, tell me if there are. Because she hasn't been able to do it. She goes around and says that she's a champion

for school choice. Did they do school choice when she was governor here? No.


CONTORNO: Haley, meanwhile, is basically trying to say she's done with Ron DeSantis and she is ready to move on to Donald Trump. In fact, she said she

won't debate in New Hampshire unless Donald Trump shows up. Becky.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, sir.

Well, that is it for this edition of "Connect the World." Stay with CNN. A lot more on Iowa and what happens next. "State of the Race" with Casey

Hunt. Follows this.