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CONNECT THE WORLD
Manchester United Sacks Manager; Malaysian Broken Promises Upset Chinese Families; U.S. Vice President Supports Kiev, Warns Moscow; Dubai's Mini City Gamble; Lebanon Looking To Bounce Back After Presidential Elections
Aired April 22, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: And here to help, the U.S. Vice President offers a hand to Ukraine's battered economy.
And Joe Biden is not just writing checks, he has a blunt message for Russia too.
Also ahead, there have been more arrests in South Korea's unfolding ferry disaster. We're live in Jindo for you for what is still officially a search and rescue operation.
And the man with the golden gut. See how an attempt to smuggle gold bars went horribly wrong.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: It is 7:00 in the evening here in the UAE. Ukraine's acting president says the Geneva agreement to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine has failed. It comes after a Russian separatists took control of another government building, a police station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.
And in a show of American support, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden offered Ukraine a $50 million aid package, but he warns Ukraine must fight what he calls the cancer of corruption.
He also sent a strong message to Moscow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No nation has the right to simply grab land from another nation. No nation has that right. And we will never recognize Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea. And neither will the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Fred Pleitgen joining us with all the developments in Ukraine tonight from Kiev.
Fred, the U.S. Vice President talking tough on the ground. In slightly conciliatory mood as well towards Moscow with some of what he said.
What's the state of play there?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly it still is a very difficult one, a very delicate one, especially when we see what's been going on in the east of the country, Becky, where of course we had that takeover of another police station. And it is quite significant that the Ukrainian government has now said it believes at this point in time that Geneva agreement is basically dead in the water.
They've not only announced that they're going to relaunch what they call an anti-terror operation in the east of the country with their military forces, they also said that they're going to start initiating a local militia of local citizens in the east of the country that's led by former police officers.
So right now it seems as though the move is more towards escalation rather than de-escalation. And Vice President Biden said the same thing. He said he believes that Moscow is behind all of this. He says Moscow needs to do more to deescalate the situation. However, he also said that the route for diplomacy is still always open.
I want to listen in to another sound bite from that press conference that he had earlier today with Ukraine's prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: There's been a lot of talk about geopolitics, about east and west, but here in Ukraine people know that it's about something much more fundamental, it's not about geopolitics it's about unity. It's about independence and at its most basic level it's about restoring respect and dignity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: And of course Vice President Biden said the only way to restore that dignity that he was talking about was for the election on May 25 to be a successful one. And a large chunk of that $50 million aid package that you were just talking about is said to go towards making the process for that election work and of course also supporting political reforms here in this country.
Now the U.S. of course sort of has a doubleheaded approach to all of this. On the one hand it's trying to prop up the government here in Kiev, but it's also threatening tougher sanctions against Russia.
Well, the Russian Federation has reacted for its part in the form of Prime Minister Medvedev. I want to listen in to one sound bite of what he had to say in reaction to the vice president's statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Business will receive necessary protection should unfriendly actions be taken. Our companies have to learn to work in conditions of fierce competition regardless of any sanctions. The economy is global, but companies have to operate by conditions of competition and not by the politically motivated economic war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So, the Russian Federation there showing that they say they are ready for the challenges that may lay ahead, but certainly at this point in time, Becky, there really isn't any sign of de-escalation, especially if you look towards the east of Ukraine at this point, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yeah, even if there was some perhaps what one might describe as conciliatory words, perhaps not enough at this stage from the U.S.
All right, Fred, thank you for that.
Later on Connect the World, we're going to turn to the economic side of the crisis in Ukraine. We'll break down what is this multimillion dollar aid package Washington is offering Kiev. Also Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't back down in Ukraine, the west promises more economic sanctions.
What are the chances that they will work? And can Europe afford to go up against Russia? Well, that is later on Connect the World.
Let's move on. And extremely difficult search continues on the sunken ferry off South Korea's coast. This is what divers are up against -- frigid, choppy water that's so murky they can barely see their hands in front of their faces.
Divers have to use ropes to make their way into what is this submerged ship. So far they've recovered 121 bodies. There have been no survivors found since the accident last Wednesday.
Still, divers have not given up hope of finding somebody alive. Will Ripley joins me now from Jindo with the latest on the search efforts.
And as we locally move into another day, Will, talk that there is a possibility that people may still be alive. But that has to be diminishing at this point, doesn't it?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has to be, Becky, when you think about the fact that we're not just about a week into this. There is a theory that there might be some sort of air pocket on the ship, that's what divers are hoping as they continue their search efforts around the clock. As we speak, there are divers in the water in the ferry.
Becky, I need to give you some breaking news that we've just confirmed within the past few minutes. For the past day or so, divers have been trying to reach the ferry's cafeteria. This is where they believe a number of young people were located when this disaster happened. And we just learned within the past few minutes the divers have now, in fact, made it to the cafeteria.
Still no word yet on what they're finding in there, but this is significant, because of the fact that there could potentially be a lot of people that were in this particular room. It was difficult to get to. They had to navigate through dark hallways using those ropes just to see their way because it's literally black under there, under the water right now.
Also, another piece of new information just coming in. Some new details about the 911 calls that were made in this disaster. The first 911 call CNN has confirmed was made at 8:52 am by what's described as a young boy with a shaky voice saying that he was on the ship, the ship was in trouble. He thought it was going to sink.
Subsequently, Becky, 20 more calls, 20 more emergency calls from young people who were on that ship. Just heartbreaking to think that many of those people who made those calls to emergency services are now among the missing that those divers are searching for.
ANDERSON: Will Ripley in Jindo in South Korea for you.
Well, Manchester United once again has a fan favorite at the helm this Tuesday. Veteran Ryan Gibbs has stepped up to manage one of the world's most famous sporting squads following what is the dismissal of David Moyes after just 10 months in the job as manager.
Giggs will take temporary charge as Man U looks for a long-term solution to its recent woes.
Well, CNN World Sport's Amanda Davies joins me from London. So where did it all go wrong? And what are the club's options at this point, Amanda?
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: A big question where it all went wrong. And it's been really, really interesting today looking at articles and what people have been saying to me on Twitter. Everybody has a different theory. A lot of them, I have to say, start with David Moyes joining Manchester United. They feel that he wasn't the man for the job. Even when he took the job 10 months ago, they felt he was a man who, yes, was doing very well with Everton, but wasn't a manager suitable to make that step up to the level of a club like Manchester United. He couldn't command the players at his disposal. He hadn't won any silverware of note and certainly haven't managed a club in the Champion's League.
I think it's a little bit unfair to put it all at that, his inexperience. But I have to say from the word go he didn't necessarily treat the job and the players in the right way. He went in very early on as an inexperienced manager and got rid of all Sir Alex Ferguson's team in the dressing room, the likes of Rene Meulensteen and Mike Phelan who had the ear and the respect of a very well established Manchester United squad. That didn't go down very well from the earliest days.
Neither did David Moyes walking in and saying he needed to buy a whole host of players in the transfer window. He then failed to bring in the big named players, the like of Cesc Fabregas. There was talk of a return of Christiano Ronaldo. So that left Moyes with the players who he'd ultimately said weren't good enough to play for him any more. So that wasn't a good start.
But the players from that point didn't really galvanize behind the new man at the helm. They didn't do him any favors. They didn't put in Manchester United performances in the games that United in the past have done so well at, the likes of games against Liverpool, against Manchester City, and in the important stages of the Champion's League. They were beaten 2-0 by Olympiakos.
So a lot of people being quite critical of some of the players, that they do need to take some of the blame, others are looking at Sir Alex Ferguson, that he jumped at the right time. And he knew that he was leaving an aging squad with players who were past their best.
But whatever the reasons, we now have a situation where Manchester United are looking for a new permanent manager. And certainly not in the position that they were hoping for having won their 20th league title last season.
ANDERSON: Thank you for that, Amanda Davies. And lest any of our viewers be in any doubt about this, we are talking about a crisis at the top of not just the football club, but arguably the biggest football club in the world and the fans, the sponsors -- and this is a big business these days, and stock investors expect a winning team.
We're going to look at the business of managing Manchester United a little later in the show.
And health officials aren't sure where the disease comes from or how exactly it spreads, so just how concerned do we need to be about the so- called MERS virus. We're going to talk to a public health expert on that also coming up later in the show.
ANDERSON: This is CNN and Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. It is 13 minutes past 7:00 here in the UAE.
Well, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has offered Ukraine a $50 million aid package. Here are the details of that. The aid is to help Kiev with economic and political reforms as well as to ensure next month's election there goes smoothly.
Now the $50 million is in addition to $8 million promised earlier for non-lethal aid and $1 bill in loan guarantees.
The U.S. also looking for ways to reduce Ukraine's reliance on natural gas from Russia.
Well, our next guest points out in a recent article he wrote that in capitals in both east and west, one question looms large, who lost Ukraine? But he goes on to say the more relevant question is, how to stabilize Ukraine, which as he puts it, is in a suspended state of animation.
Daniel Gros joins us live from Brussels. He's the director of the center for European policy studies.
Where to start, Daniel, with a country with unsustainable fiscal external deficits. You tell me?
DANIEL GROS, DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN POLICY STUDIES: Ukraine is in really in a bind, because it cannot fix both deficits, external and internal, and keep the allegiance of the population. That's a big problem. Hardship now costs politically and therefore they don't really know what to do at present.
ANDERSON: The vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, today insisting that the U.S. supports productive and peaceful relationships for Ukraine with both the east and the west with both Russia, he points out, and with Europe. That last may be an ask too many at this point.
But you point out that reform is what this is all about. The U.S. government releasing details of what it's calling its aid package for Ukraine. Some of the highlights talking about reform, a $50 million package for political and economic reform, $8 million of non-lethal military assistance, and securing reverse flows of natural gas from European neighbors.
Let's talk about this reform package. What needs to be done? What are the key issues here?
GROS: Well, the key issue is not really money, the key really issue is really whether the apparatus of the Ukrainian government actually performs, whether if you have an order from a minister in Kiev, whether that order is then implemented in Donetsk or some other part of eastern Ukraine and that requires some time. It's not a question of $50 million here or there, it will require months, perhaps years before the Ukrainian government can function again. And that's why this is now a race against time for Ukraine to survive.
ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. OK.
Given what you've just said, Daniel, take a listen to what U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had to say about Ukraine pushing ahead with its reforms. This is what he said earlier on today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I expect the IMF package to be finalized imminently. And I congratulate you and your government here in Ukraine for having made the difficult -- and they are difficult -- very difficult economic reforms to get this done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Daniel, it makes it sound as if Ukraine is sort of halfway there. You point out we're talking medium to long-term reforms, crucial reforms. Just how challenging is this going to be?
GROS: For this government it's really a question of survival. Indeed, some of them have said they are a suicide government in the sense that they have to put through all the measures for which other governments then fall. And this will create hardship. The key question is, can they survive? Can the population still support them for the next two or three or four months when the hardship really becomes very difficult to bear? If that can be managed, then over the longer-term the future of Ukraine doesn't look too bad. But the next few months are really crucial.
ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. Much of these reforms, of course, around energy. The price of gas has got to be increased substantially, you point out, to reflect its cost. Subsidies for domestic coal knocked out. And you've also pointed out all three of these -- or all of these issues are crucial to the fight against corruption. And the U.S. also pointing that out as absolutely strategic.
Going forward, how important is cooperation with Russia? Because at this point, things are looking pretty iffy so far as that relationship is concerned, aren't they?
GROS: Cooperation with Russia would be nice if Russia had an interest in a stable democratic Ukraine. But Russia doesn't have any interest in stabilizing Ukraine. And certainly not in a democratic and prosperous Ukraine, therefore I'm afraid cooperation with Russia is something which is very desirable, but impossible. The Russians will not cooperate to helping heal Ukraine and therefore one shouldn't bank on that.
ANDERSON: Fascinating, Daniel Gros out of Brussels for you today.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that one group in particular is under siege in Ukraine. Donier Miatovic is the OSCE representative on freedom of the media. She described to our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour how harassment both of local and foreign journalists is a regular occurrence in Crimea and eastern parts of the country. That interview on a special section of the website CNN.com/Ukraine.
Moving on, live from Abu Dhabi, Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson 19 minutes past 7:00 here. There is a climate of concern in Lebanon as it prepares to select a new president. We'll consider the many challenges awaiting the new leader there.
And after the misery of the Moyes era, we're going to outline the pressures on the next Man United manager to turn around the club's financial fortune. That is a story that is as big here in the UAE as it is in Manchester in north England. This is a club supported all over the world and one of the biggest in the world. That coming up after this short break.
ANDERSON: At the Global Exchange here on Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi. Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson.
Well, Lebanon's parliament will convene on Wednesday to start what is the process of choosing the country's new president. Now the decision comes at what is a difficult time. There are deep rifts over the current influx of Syrian refugees, as I'm sure you're well aware. And the role of the Shiite group Hezbollah, whose militant wing has been implicated in a recent spate of deadly violence.
Our emerging markets editor John Defterios joining me with the details of the economic domino effect, as it were.
This position of president it doesn't really hold real powers. So why is this selection proving so important, John?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's any opportunity to grasp stability, because they've been lacking stability for the better part of a year. It went almost a year without a government, then they have a cabinet of special interests that has a 100 day mandate, which is not a whole lot to get things passed as you know here. So the suggestion is that if a strong president can come in, probably with the military tilt, it will provide the stability to then go for reelections here, parliamentary elections.
Now this can be very divisive, as you know, you have the March 14 camp, which is backed by the Sunnis and the March 8 camp which is backed by the Shia. So they have very different supports for the candidates that are there.
The one candidate that has emerged has military backing is probably a couple of others like Michel Aoun on the sidelines that may emerge if they go to this vote tomorrow and cannot build a two-thirds consensus. That's the big question mark.
But look at the result now -- and you know this -- that in Lebanon, they're usually extremely resilient. I was on the ground there a month ago and you can see it in the eyes of the Lebanese people. They don't feel comfortable. They've had the crisis on their borders for the last three years. And it shows up in the growth. Let's take a look at what I'm talking about here.
Going back to 2008, 2009 and then all the way up to 2013 we had growth, Becky, of 9 percent. And even at the height of the financial crisis and then the tail end of that crisis it was still growing at 7 percent. And look what happened the following three years of the civil war, growth of 1.5 percent. For an emerging market, a market that has a lot of capital coming in, it's very poor growth.
Now can it bounce back is the big question not only after presidential elections, if there's any since of stability. And then it's all complicated by the elections that are going to be taking place in neighboring Syria going forward. Obviously this is going to have a ripple effect on what's taking place in Lebanon.
ANDERSON: Yeah. And those, of course, are on June 30, go back to 2006. As I was looking at that graph I was thinking I was there covering the war there in 2006 when things went pear-shaped for the economy again.
And this -- this sort of (inaudible) opportunity and then this reverse.
Knowing what is happening in neighboring Syria, could the situation be any worse at this point?
DEFTERIOS: It could be a lot worse. That's a very good point that you bring up here. We talked about 1.5 percent growth. When I was on the ground, which is just about 30 days ago, all the business leaders I spoke to, and even ministers within the cabinet think, if this happened in any other country in the world we would have been in recession. And what's the magic or the silver bullet here that kept them above water. Take a look at this big number that we accumulated here. This is capital inflows for the last six years coming in to Lebanon. Look at the number here as we tally it up. Nearly $100 billion.
So this is the Lebanese diaspora, Lebanese expat community funneling money back into the homeland. Obviously because they want to support their country, but they have a lot of trust in the banking sector. They know it's a very stable banking sector. And they have a lot of confidence in their central bank governor. I talked to him just a month ago. Let's get his analysis on why it didn't slip into recession.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIAD SALAME, GOVERNOR, BANK OF LEBANON: Lebanon has retained the potential to rebound, because of the large inflows that are still coming to the country, to its banking sector. So we hope that political solutions will happen in Syria and in the Middle East in general and Lebanon will rebound quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: That's the hope of the central bank governor. As you know, he's got a lot of trust around the world, has been voted the best central bank governor around the world by both Euro Money and of course others, including The Banker magazine.
That $100 billion, very interesting figure, $50 billion -- this is a population of only 4 million people -- $50 billion has been funneled into the real estate sector. All those abroad want to own a piece of Lebanon even with all that chaos, Becky.
ANDERSON: Many of those, of course, are Syrian refugees at the moment.
ANDERSON: All right, John, we're at the Global Exchange.
DEFTERIOS: Well, we know during this tumult in the region that Dubai and the UAE overall have benefited from the rush of capital coming in because of what we've seen with the Arab Spring countries. Projects abound, particularly in Dubai right now, but one is circled around racing, horse racing. And the developer is making a big bet this could pay off as a winner in the years to come.
For one day a year Dubai is the center of the horse racing universe. The Dubai World Cup, hosted here at Meydan, is the richest on the planet.
The first Dubai World Cup was held in 1996 at a venue, which could be described as a track in the desert, certainly not this green oasis. Meydan opened in 2010 to put the emirate on the sporting map. Now it's at the heart of a much bigger master plan leading up to the World Expo in 2020.
That plan is to build a high end mini-city, a short (inaudible) from Dubai's financial district with Meydan its physical and philosophical heart.
Stage one meant turning the race course into a year-round destination.
FRANK GABRIEL, FRM. CEO, DUBAI RACING CLUB: 2005 I came here, it was just horse racing. And all of a sudden within six months we were building a master plan of a race track in a city and then next thing you know we're just -- we never stopped moving.
DEFTERIOS: First came the grandstand, a statement construction stretching over a kilometer.
The five star Meydan Hotel was completed the same year, 2010. Then came an IMAX cinema, art gallery, tennis center and golf course. With each addition, Meydan's reach extended beyond its equestrian origins.
Stage two is by far the most ambitious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The horse racing and the equestrian industry is the heart and soul of Meydan. And that will always be in our pedigree. But developing a city just put us on the global map.
DEFTERIOS: That city is named after the rule, Mohammed bin Rashad al Maktoum City. It's an $8 billion, 1,500 villa development spanning over 16 million square meters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So between one row of villas and another you have a certain amount of space.
DEFTERIOS: The development takes a thoroughbred lifestyle Meydan seeks to embody back at the race track and recreates it on a massive scale. Four to eight bedroom villas cost $6,200 per square meter, that's over 40 percent more than the average cost of villas in Dubai, according to the real estate consultancy CBRE.
From a simple race course in the desert to the heart of a luxury new mini city. Meydan is a premiere sports venue that now extends way beyond its equine beginnings.
John Defterios, CNN, Dubai.
ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories this hour for you here on CNN.
US Vice President Joe Biden says Washington will never recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea. He also delivered a $50 million aid package to help Kiev with economic and political reforms. But Biden also called on Kiev to fight what he called the "cancer of corruption."
David Moyes has been fired as manager of Manchester United football club after just ten months on the job. Veteran player Ryan Giggs will take over on an interim basis. Man United have only won 27 of 51 matches this season, and they are on track for their lowest finish in Premier League history.
A Borno state government official now says 234 girls were abducted from their school by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. That is nearly twice the numbers officials gave at first. This is recent video showing the outside of the girls' school. About 190 students are still believed to be missing after the attack a week ago Monday.
Turkey's prime minister says the number of Syrian refugees in the country has now hit nearly a million. But Mr. Erdogan says Turkey will continue to accept war refugees for as long as needed. The United Nations says nearly 3 million people have fled the three-year-long conflict.
South Korea's Defense Ministry says North Korea has increased activity at its main nuclear test site. Experts say the nature of the activity indicates that nuclear tests could be imminent. Now, this report comes just as the US president gets ready for a tour of Asian nations, including South Korea. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports from Seoul.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is stepped-up activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site in the northeast of North Korea. This is according to South Korea's Ministry of Defense, telling CNN that all that North Korea has left to make is the political decision.
Now, we understand from the spokesman that they have yet to dig the entrance to this underground tunnel and then to seal it up, but we understand that that would not take very long, so South Korea says it is watching the situation around the clock and it is stepping up its own military preparedness.
Now, certainly the timing is interesting. The US president, Barack Obama, is heading to the region this week. He is heading to Seoul on Friday. North Korea's Foreign Ministry has already mentioned this trip, calling it, quote, "a reactionary and dangerous" one.
Now, just last month, North Korea did say that it may carry out a different kind of nuclear test, and it said it would do that if it felt it was being pushed to do so by the United States. Experts are assuming that this new kind of test may be uranium test as opposed to plutonium, which the previous three underground nuclear tests were.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
ANDERSON: Well, let's get you back to the north of England, now, where the dismissal of Mr. David Moyes at Manchester United may not have come as a surprise, but it's still causing quite a stir. Speculation now turns to the manager's successor, and whoever gets the gig won't just have to transform the team, but also the club's financial fortunes. Isa Soares explains.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After ten months in charge of Manchester United, David Moyes is gone in just two tweets. On Manchester United's Twitter page, it said, "The club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty, and integrity he brought to the role."
But that hard work didn't deliver on the pitch: 11 defeats, 6 at home, in 34 league games this season alone. A poor performance, critics say, when compared to Manchester United's previous season under Sir Alex Ferguson.
MICHAEL JARMAN, HEAD OF EQUITY STRATEGY, H20 MARKETS: He lost the dressing room very early on into the season, maybe in and around the December period, when we started -- results weren't going our way and we were coming off the pace of the top of the table. And then, I think, the other 50 percent probably lies with, as I said, the likes of the commercial department.
SOARES: His appointment as manager of one of the world's richest clubs has been an expensive one. The club's American owners, the Glazer family, paid more than $6 million a year for Moyes, signing him up for a six-year contract.
But he failed to convince from the start. The club lost out on the Champions League for the first time in 19 years, costing them more than $50 million in lost broadcast revenue. And bad results on the pitch have resulted in sharp losses on the stock market. Man United's share price is down almost 10 percent since Moyes was appointed last May.
JARMAN: From a commercial aspect, the sponsors have had a big impact on this, and I think if you just look at this logistically from a commercial aspect, someone at Nike is probably sitting there thinking, I'm not willing to pay as much as 600 million pounds for a ten-year deal to see Manchester United finishing seventh in the league.
SOARES: Manchester United is already looking for its next manager, and the bets are in as to who will take that job.
SOARES (on camera): Well, whoever it is, he will be under immense pressure to deliver the results the fans and the sponsors have come to expect. But the question is, at a time when football is played on the stock markets as much as on the pitch, will the fans and the owners have the patience to wait for that winning formula?
Isa Soares, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: I want to get you a check of Man United's stock in New York. Right now, it's up almost 3 percent at more than $18 a share. That won't do enough to reverse its recent downward spiral, but it is a start, down some 10 percent, as Isa pointed out, since May.
We're broadcasting from Abu Dhabi, and football fans will know it as the financial home of Man United's arch rivals, Manchester City. But that's not to say there isn't healthy support for the Old Trafford team in this part of the world as well.
Joining me now is James Piercy of the UAE's daily sports newspaper "Sport360." In fact, the support base here for the English Premier League as a whole is absolutely enormous, isn't it?
JAMES PIERCY, "SPORT360": Oh, of course. Of course. English football -- the diverse makeup of the nationalities within this country. Manchester United have always been the historically most successful club in England over the last 20 to 20 -- well, 30 years almost.
PIERCY: So consequently, when fans in this region are looking for clubs to support, success tends to be a big plus for them.
ANDERSON: And as you point that out, we're making the point that this is just not a football club in the north of England and not just -- sort of what happens on the field stays on the field. We're talking about a big, big international sporting brand with corporate sponsors and a lot of business involved.
Let's have a listen to what some of the fans here had to say about this decision today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Manchester should give David Moyes some other chance, maybe. It's only his first season. Maybe he's trying to build a new team, maybe he's trying to apply some new ideas to the team. So, let's see. Let's hope for the best for the team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sacking of David Moyes, well, I guess he never gelled with the team, so tough look for the guy. I hope he finds a better club, though.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Tough luck for the guy, first guy says perhaps they can find him something else to do at Manchester United. That's not going to happen, is it?
PIERCY: No, I don't think it is.
ANDERSON: Who's going to take over?
PIERCY: Louis van Gaal certainly really looks to be the case. He's already held preliminary discussions, it seems. Tottenham, he's also talked to Tottenham. He said openly that after the World Cup, he would like a Premier League job.
He's a manager who has worked at Barcelona, he's worked at Bayern Munich, he's worked at Ajax, he's the Dutch national team. He likes big jobs, and he flourishes within big clubs as well.
ANDERSON: Any chance that they would tap up Jose Mourinho at this point?
PIERCY: I think --
ANDERSON: He wanted to get the job, didn't he? He was absolutely clear about it.
PIERCY: Of course. I think that opportunity's gone, unfortunately, for Manchester United. They might look back on that with regret, but the reasons for taking Mourinho -- David Moyes was almost the antithesis of what Mourinho stands for.
PIERCY: That hasn't worked, so maybe it will be a change of strategy, but Jose Mourinho appears reasonably happy at Chelsea. I think it would take an awful amount of change in scenario for that to happen.
ANDERSON: Yes, all right. Listen, Manchester United's former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was the most successful manager in British football history, but you and I will remember that he had a rotten time when he first got to Manchester United from Aberdeen.
He was -- Moyes, effectively, was his pick. But during his nearly three decades in charge of the team, Alex Ferguson won 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 2 Champions League titles and many more trophies. So undoubtedly a very hard act for David Moyes to follow.
In the ten months that he was in charge of the team, Moyes only managed to snag community shield trophy. I mean, you and I could probably win one of those.
PIERCY: And it was against Wigan.
PIERCY: But in terms of Moyes' targets, I think the board, to be honest, set them at a reasonably realistic level. Obviously, Ferguson's retirement, it's a squad that needed an element of regenerate -- well, a huge amount of regeneration.
And I think the Champions League is the main thing. Top four, they're not going to get top four football. They're 23 points behind Liverpool. That starts to have an economic effect on the club. I know we've seen the share prices risen, it's the highest it's been since May, but Manchester United not playing Champions League football for a season is almost unthinkable.
ANDERSON: Listen, one of the banks here has a credit card which is linked to Manchester United, and I think a savings account, so -- which goes up by something like a quarter of one percentage point for every certain amount of goals scored on the pitch.
ANDERSON: So, people here -- really want to see a game and a club that's winning.
PIERCY: Yes, of course. And the danger is, although I'm sure this is almost the fourth or fifth concern for the club at this stage, and not just this part of the world. Look at Southeast Asia, the massive amount of support Manchester United have in China, emerging markets, Thailand.
A successful club is not an appealing one, and certainly you've got Liverpool now winning the title. They're probably playing the most attractive football in the division at the moment.
If there's a sustained amount of success for Liverpool, which I'm sure Manchester United fans can't -- won't stand for, if this is, then you're looking a 8, 9, 10-year-old kids in this part of the world, they'll be looking -- I know it sounds silly -- but they don't have the geographical sort of affinity with these clubs, so they look at who is the most successful, who's playing -- who's the best to watch, who's the most entertaining.
ANDERSON: And if you get the kids at 9 or 10 --
PIERCY: You've got them for life.
ANDERSON: You've got them for another 30 or 40 years --
ANDERSON: -- or 50 years. Yes.
PIERCY: You only have to look around Abu Dhabi, Manchester City -- I know you've got Etihad and you've got, obviously, the financial involvement from Sheikh Mansour, but at the same time, Manchester City have been reasonably successful, and there are a growing amount of children in Manchester City shirts. And that is just a small barometer of their rise.
ANDERSON: Let's see what happens to that club at the end of the season, because Mr. Pellegrini, the coach there, isn't having the kind of results -- or isn't getting the kind of results that perhaps the owners might have wanted. So, we'll give him another couple of matches and get to the end of the season and see whether Manchester as a whole is suffering a blight in football.
PIERCY: Potentially. The thing is with Pellegrini, he's secured a trophy. They've had a decent go at the title. Technically. Mathematically there's still a chance if Chelsea win at Liverpool and Manchester City win all the rest of their games, they could well be champions. So, they're still not out of it. So, I think again, that's a bit way down the road at this stage.
ANDERSON: Watch this space with the Liverpool-Chelsea game this weekend.
ANDERSON: Because I think that's kind of decider, isn't it, for the league?
ANDERSON: James, a pleasure having you on.
PIERCY: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. James Piercy in the house. The brief Moyes saga can be seen as a case study in how not to appoint a manager. Manchester United appears to have gone about it in a way that might surprise you.
Find out how and see the questions CNN asked that the club refused to answer. And of course, leave your thoughts on whether Moyes deserved to be sacked or given more time, cnn.com/international is where you will find all of that.
This is live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Dozens of people across the Middle East have suddenly come down with the so-called MERS virus. We're going to tell you why there is so much concern, up next.
ANDERSON: Saudi Arabia is scrambling to contain a potentially deadly virus. It's called the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and the Saudi Health Ministry reports 50 new cases -- 50, 5-0 -- in the past week alone. Leone Lakhani explains why this illness has health officials so concerned.
LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a deadly coronavirus called MERS-CoV for short. The virus comes from the same group as the common cold and attacks the respiratory system.
It's not clear exactly how the virus is spread, but the World Health Organization says to look out for symptoms, like fever, cough, shortness of breath, in conjunction with recent travel to the Arabian peninsula. That's because all the cases so far have been related to travelers to the region.
MERS was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and that's where the majority of cases still are. Others were reported across the Middle East, in Europe, and as far as Malaysia. So far, more than 250 cases have been reported worldwide, including more than 90 deaths.
LAKHANI (on camera): But in the past month, there's been a 20 percent spike in the total number of cases, including more than a dozen reported here in the UAE. Authorities say they're monitoring the situation and there's no need for panic, but social media is rife with messages of concern.
LAKHANI (voice-over): "So, when are we supposed to freak out about the MERS coronavirus in the UAE?" says one. "Should we be worried about MERS or about the lack of transparency from health authorities?" says another.
Health authorities in Saudi Arabia are under growing pressure. The health minister was removed form his post as the number of cases in the kingdom spiked, more than 50 in the past week alone.
Officials say they don't know what's causing the sudden surge, but they're calling on the World Health Organization and other medical experts to help curb it. They're also trying to spread awareness, sending out text messages to 30 million residents last week, asking them to contact the ministry with questions.
That's essential in a country where millions of Muslims converge in the holy city of Mecca every year for pilgrimages. But with the recent uptick in the number of cases, public concern is sure to rise.
Leone Lakhani, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
ANDERSON: So, how concerned should we be, and how do we prevent this virus from spreading even further? Joining me now from London is Dr. Brian McCloskey, who is the director of global health for public health, England.
You've worn hats at times, sir, when you've been involved in building public health capacity around mass gatherings like World Cups and, indeed, things like the Hajj. Just how concerned should we be?
BRIAN MCCLOSKEY, DOCTOR, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH, PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND: Not too concerned at this stage. This is an interesting development. There are a number of explanations as to why the number of cases might have gone up, but we do need to pay a lot of attention and take this very seriously. And we will be expecting to see more studies look at the cause of this very soon.
ANDERSON: There is nothing from big pharma as of yet to either prevent this or cure this. Am I correct in saying that?
MCCLOSKEY: That's right. There are a number of initiatives being developed, but none have come to fruition, none have come to the market yet. But there are people looking at various treatments and, indeed, vaccines. But as you say, none currently available.
ANDERSON: So, as things stand -- we know very little about it. And also we have nothing to prevent or cure it. So, you say don't be concerned, but I'm sure there will be viewers who just don't buy that.
What do you do if you get the symptoms, and what's your advice tonight for anybody in this region or anywhere in the world who may be traveling here or in their home countries who are concerned?
MCCLOSKEY: Well, the first thing is to keep it in context. We're looking at about 250, 300 cases across the world so far. And that compares, for example, to 8,000 cases when we had the SARS epidemic some ten years ago. So, it's not yet at that level.
But you're right that we do need to take it seriously. People need to be aware of the symptoms and seek medical help, and the earlier you seek help, the more likely you are to have a good outcome.
ANDERSON: How big is big pharma to finding something to defend us against this?
MCCLOSKEY: It's very hard to tell because we need to get initial results from both the manufacturers and then to do the clinical trials to see whether it actually works in practice. We haven't seen any of those clinical trials yet, so it could be some time before there's a treatment. But I say, we need to keep it in context. It could be just that this is Saudi artificial rise.
ANDERSON: And you've drawn some comparisons with SARS. Take us back to that period. Are we over that at this point?
MCCLOSKEY: Well, we certainly haven't seen the very dramatic rise that we saw with SARS in the first few weeks of that epidemic, so MERS hasn't behaved like that at all.
And we're also now seeing the that death rate for MERS is going down. It's now about 35, 36 percent compared to the 90 percent that we thought it was originally. So, in that sense, it's not quite as scary as it was. But that doesn't mean we can be complacent. We do have to keep a good eye on this and we need to do the studies that will help show where this has come from.
ANDERSON: Decent advice from your doctor this evening on what is a story that concerns many, not just in this region, but around the world. Thank you, sir.
Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, how one man in India took his appetite for gold just a little too far.
ANDERSON: From the terrace of the CNN Bureau in Abu Dhabi, it is about five to 8:00. Just before we leave you this evening, your Parting Shots. And we've all heard of a heart of gold, but what about a belly of the shiny stuff? Well, that is what doctors in New Delhi found.
When a man arrived from overseas in severe discomfort, as Amir Daftari now reports, his apparent attempt to evade tax didn't have a glittering end.
AMIR DAFTARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gold, the metal most precious to the people of India. A symbol of wealth, power, and beauty. But it's not so pretty now, is it? This is what the process of removing 12 gold bars from the stomach of a 63-year-old looks like.
Each of the objects weights 33 grams. In total, they'd command an import duty of $17,000. So it's little wonder some people would go to extreme lengths to try to avoid that. This suspected smuggler visited a New Delhi hospital after arriving from abroad. Doctors say he complained of severe stomach pain and nausea, claiming to have swallowed the cap of a plastic bottle.
But what medics found when they were forced to operate was rather more pricey and, presumably, more painful. The gold bars are now in police care, and the patient is under investigation for tax evasion, which certainly takes the shine off his import experiment.
Amir Daftari, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
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I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. The headlines are next.