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CONNECT THE WORLD
Families of Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls Demanding Government Action; Istanbul Protests; May Day Celebrations; Crisis in Ukraine Inspires National Pride in Russia; Craving Franchises in UAE; Hard Rock in the Middle East; Investing in Cairo's Night Life
Aired May 1, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, HOST: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Jim Clancy and here are your top stories. At least 15 people have been injured when Ukrainian riot police clashed with pro-Russian activists. It happened in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Shots were fired. Small grenades and stones were thrown in that confrontation at the prosecutor's office building. Some of the activists managed to get inside.
Malaysia has released its preliminary report on the disappearance of Flight 370. Among the findings, officials apparently did not notice for 17 minutes that the flight had gone off radar, and they did not activate an official rescue operations for another four hours.
An inquest into the death of Peaches Geldof has just revealed the likely cause of her death. A detective says heroin probably played a role. The 25-year-old daughter of musician Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates was found dead in her home southeast of London last month.
Nigerians taking to the streets in protest, demanding that the government do more to rescue 187 kidnapped schoolgirls. The teenage girls were abducted from their school dormitory more than two weeks ago. CNN's Vladimir Duthiers joins us now, live from Lagos, where the latest protest was held. Vladimir, what is the point they are trying to make?
VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, people that we've spoken to are saying that they are outraged, they're angry at the -- what they say is a lack of government response, military response to the situation of these 200-plus girls that were taken in the middle of the night in their dormitory more than two weeks ago in Chibok state, northeastern Nigeria.
Which as you know, has been under a state of emergency since May of last year due to the threat caused by Boko Haram.
Now, what we've been also told by some of the relatives of the missing girls that are in Chibok, I spoke to one this morning. Two of his nieces are still missing. He says that people have tried to go into the forest area where it is believed that Boko Haram has taken these girls.
They've been arming themselves with machetes, with rocks, with sticks, with whatever they can find to go and try to bring these girls back, because they say that they don't see any kind of military or government response in rescuing these girls.
And it's finally starting to seep into the public consciousness, Jim. Today on one of the big newspapers here, it's front-page news. It's been talked about but really where the enthusiasm for putting pressure on the government has come is through social media and through protests, like the ones that we attended today, Jim.
CLANCY: All right. When we look at all of this, what is the government saying? Has it outlined what it's doing on the ground? What its plan is?
DUTHIERS: We call practically every day for a military response, for a response from the government. The last that we received from the military was that they were not going to comment while they say operations were underway to find and rescue these girls.
That's what I think people are starting to voice their displeasure about. One person saying yesterday that in any other country in the world, the government -- there would be outrage not only within that country, but around the world over 200-plus young children missing in the middle of the night.
And what they say is that so far, the response has bee less than adequate, and they're looking for something greater than what they've received over the last couple of weeks, Jim. And one of the women that we spoke to today, very very upset. She had this to tell us about what she feels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here for this, these 254 girls are kidnapped in Borno state 17 days ago. We've been counting. And the government hasn't done anything. I'm a young mother, so I can't imagine any mother going through this.
It's disheartening. It's shocking that our government hasn't even made any official statement. All we keep hearing are lies. Everybody saying one thing or the other. But they are not true. We need to hear the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DUTHIERS: You can see that young woman there, Jim, very, very emotional. And I can tell you, what she said was echoed across many people that we spoke to today, Jim.
CLANCY: Vladimir Duthiers, reporting to us there, live from Lagos, really the commercial capital of Nigeria.
Meantime, in Abuja, the political capital, one of the women at the forefront of the protest has been campaigning for reform for decades. She's also served as a vice president of the World Bank. Obi Ezekwesili told CNN that the public has lost trust in what they're being told about the fate of the -- and she says more than 200 girls who have been abducted by Boko Haram.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBI EZEKWESILI, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, WORLD BANK: The most prevalent view that I hear from citizens is a complete distrust as to whether the government is doing all that it can. And I probably come out on the side of the government maybe doing something, but whatever it is doing, it's not acting swiftly enough.
CLANCY: Now, the government's handling of the crisis has, of course, created political tensions, but parents and activists say those kinds of -- politics is a distraction from the real problem, and that is getting the girls back home.
EZEKWESILI: This is a matter that should unite us more than it should. This shouldn't at all divide us. It should unite us. Every one of those 234 children are Nigerian girls. They're good. They're the ones that will rule the world tomorrow. We have a stake in making sure that they are found.
And it's the business of not just Nigerians, led by the Nigerian government at the federal level, but also of all the members of the global community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Now, it hasn't been lost on Nigerians. They mourn with the victims of Malaysian Air Flight 370, they mourn with the victims aboard the South Korean ferry. But they wonder why can't some satellites be moved? Why can't the world marshal some of its resources to help Nigeria in this crisis when they still have time to save the lives of what they say is more than 200 young women.
Well, let's turn to Turkey, now, where protesters are defying the prime minister's ban on May Day demonstrations in Istanbul. Police fired teargas and water cannon to try to keep them away from Taksim Square. Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned people, do not gather in the square on May 1st. It was the heart of last year's protest against his government.
CNN's Ivan Watson has been reporting from the middle of the ensuing chaos all day long. Earlier, he was literally front and center as the teargas came in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm having to put a gas mask on now. You can see them throwing rocks here. We're going to have to move out of here in a second or put our masks on.
UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: OK, Ivan, you and your team, you take care. We can hear you putting your mask on.
WATSON: Officials saying a cycle of --
UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Sorry, go ahead, Ivan. Go ahead if you can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: All right, go ahead if you can. I've got Ivan with us, now, live again in Istanbul, away from the teargas, though. Ivan, what was it like out there, and why?
WATSON: Well, this is the second year in a row that the Turkish government has banned May Day rallies from being held here in Istanbul's Taksim square behind me. It has cited threats from what it describes as extremist groups.
And it is also, according to the Istanbul's governor's office, cited the tourism potential of Istanbul's Taksim Square, saying it's a big destination for foreign tourists, and it would hurt Turkey's image if you had large gatherings -- let me get out of the way -- in this area that the state has paved over in the last year and removed vehicular traffic, effectively making it a huge pedestrian area.
But today, the government has used incredible -- it's basically an enormous show of force. It has barricaded the square, shut down the subway system, closed commuter ferry services between Asian and the European sides of Istanbul, and barricaded this area so that the only people here are basically Turkish security forces and flocks of wandering pigeons.
We've seen foreign tourists actually trying to come in and be turned away by the Turkish security forces. So, the cat-and-mouse battles have taken place on the fringes, kilometers from here, as leftist groups, as labor unions, as anarchists, and football clubs have tried to get into this area and have been pushed back by the Turkish security forces, who have used water cannons, teargas, in cases that has blown into people's residences. There have been images on Turkish television of children --
WATSON: -- overwhelmed by teargas being pulled out of their homes. Jim?
CLANCY: Ivan, why does it matter so much to both the demonstrators and to the government to be there? How vulnerable is the prime minster?
WATSON: Well, his party just swept municipal elections last March, winning 43 percent of the national vote. The reason why this square is so important to the labor movement, the leftist parties in Turkey is because in 1977, they were trying to hold a rally here, gunshots rang out, 34 people were killed by gunfire and the subsequent panic and trampling there.
The government of the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the first time in decades in 2011 and 12, allowed the labor parties, unions, to gather here, and the rallies were peaceful, they were festive. The portraits of the people killed in 1977 were displayed prominently here.
But starting last year, the government banned the rallies, and it started a cycle of clashes and the worst anti-government demonstrations Turkey has seen in more than a decade, demonstrations that have continued today in Istanbul, in the capital, Ankara, and also in the port city of Izmir. Jim?
CLANCY: All right, Ivan Watson reporting to us there, live from Istanbul. Thank you, Ivan.
Now, in other parts of the world, there were some traditional May Day celebrations, and we must say they were much more peaceful. Thousands of workers in Taiwan called for wage increases and a ban on companies hiring temporary or part-time workers.
Meantime in Malaysia, civil society groups rallied in Kuala Lumpur against government-backed price increases. In Paris, unions protested the government's plan to seek almost $70 billion in spending cuts to finance tax breaks for businesses. While in Havana, huge crowds celebrated the day, praising socialism and, of course, former president Fidel Castro.
Matthew Chance takes a look at the show of national pride, meantime, in Russia.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russian authorities say this is not meant to be any kind of Soviet revival, but for the first time since 1991, tens of thousands of Russians are parading through Red Square to commemorate May Day.
Now, officially, this has been organized by Russia's trade union. The people here are students, they're factory workers, they're doctors and teachers. But it comes amid a growing sense of national pride in Russia, particularly in the face of international sanctions and the events in Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, maybe the young generation doesn't have the same pride that existed in Soviet times, but we're trying to rebuild our traditions.
CHANCE: Given the tensions between Russia and the West at the moment, are you concerned that the country could be drawn into another Cold War.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm not sure we're afraid of a new Cold War. I believe our country's independent and can get by alone, but other countries understand that we're strong and the world can rely on us.
CHANCE: From some of the signs that people are carrying, you get a further indication of the public mood, this one here saying, "Putin prab," which means "Putin is right." A lot of support for the Russian president. But first and foremost, this is a festive occasion, and an opportunity for Russians to exhibit their national pride.
CLANCY: May Day in Moscow, Matthew Chance, there, in a carnival atmosphere. I'm Jim Clancy, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST is straight ahead.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, HOST: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, one brand, different industries. We meet the president and chief executive of Hard Rock to talk about the strategy behind reviving growth of its cafes, hotels, and casinos.
And business opportunity in Cairo's night life. We take a look at an upbeat sector in the midst of lots of uncertainty.
Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, where this week we're focusing on the fast-growing food and beverage sector. Dining out is very popular here in the UAE. In fact, throughout the region. Not surprisingly, it was the global brands who arrived first. Now we see more specialty niche players, giving the diners more food for thought.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): If one has a passion for egg, then Eggspectation may be the closest thing to Nirvana. They're being cooked sunny-side up, poached, and whisked into omelets. Basically, it's breakfast around the clock, and it is in demand. Co-owner Samer Sarraf spotted the brand when he lived in Canada.
SAMER SARRAF, PARTNER, EGGSPECTATIONS: We would wait in line for half an hour, 40 minutes, in minus-20 degrees, minus-30 degrees, just to go inside Eggspectations to have our meal on a Sunday.
DEFTERIOS: Today, Eggspectation is in Dubai, serving meals in 40 degree heat on the edge of the beach. Only a month after opening its doors, it's taking orders for 800 meals on a good day.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): As they say, the kitchen can get hot, but so, too, can the competition. The first wave of food and beverage companies to come to the Gulf shores were the major global brands. Now we see the niche players coming in, serving everything from all-day dining breakfasts to burgers.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Within a stone's throw from Eggspectation, one can witness a franchise boom. Consults Francorp says the franchise business in the Middle East is growing by 27 percent a year. More than half of the franchises are in the restaurant space, which is dominated by American brands.
The prime location for Eggspectation was picked to both leverage the tourism growth in the emirate and high-end residents in the area.
SARRAF: So, the area that you have is pretty massive, and there's a lot of families with their children that are coming in, which is what you see here. Between the tourists and the families that are coming into enjoy a meal, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner. So, it was a risk, but it was worth the risk.
DEFTERIOS: In neighboring oil-rich Abu Dhabi, there's the Burger Bureau, a player in what is known as the better burger market. This is a clever twist on America's FBI.
SCOTT SORENSEN, CO-FOUNDER, BURGER BUREAU: Staff are not known as waiters or waitresses, they're burger agents. We only employ people that really believe in our product. They've got to really protect the real burger lovers of the world.
DEFTERIOS: A homegrown UAE brand, the Bureau has put up the namesake to the world's tallest tower.
SORENSEN: This is the Burger Khalifa, the UAE's tallest burger.
DEFTERIOS: Sorensen only prepares New Zealand organic meat and cheese, sugar-free buns, but also a chance for local entrepreneurs to own their own franchise.
SORENSEN: We want to give the opportunity to other people to benefit from our experience, all the mistakes that have been made, all of the good things that have been done, and minimize your risk.
DEFTERIOS: Wise advice from two start-up businesses out to make it against some of the world's biggest brands.
DEFTERIOS: My special look at the expanding market for franchises here in the Middle East. Now, here's a brand you've heard of in the past: the Hard Rock Cafe. It's going through a revival, very much like the music it represents. But it's not just about restaurants. It includes hotels and casinos as well. Our Leone Lakhani sat down with the chief executive, Hamish Dodds, to look at building out.
LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all started, as the legend goes, with two Americans living in London in search of a good burger. So, they decided to open an American diner and called it Hard Rock Cafe. That was 1971.
Over the next two decades, it became a regular haunt for A-list musicians and a museum for rock star memorabilia.
Today, it's an industry. There are some 180 Hard Rock venues in more than 50 countries. Hard Rock t-shirts and other merchandise account for 30 to 50 percent of sales at each destination.
HAMISH DODDS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HARD ROCK: One of our large revenue generators. This is a KISS t-shirt.
LAKHANI: But building this empire hasn't been easy.
DODDS: The hang tag indicates it's a charity, which in this case, is the City of Hope.
LAKHANI: When Hamish Dodds, the company's CEO, took over in 2004, may considered the brand old and tired.
LAKHANI (on camera): Hard Rock emerged from the good old rock-and-roll days of the 70s, 80s. Now we're in the online music generation. So, is there a place for Hard Rock?
DODDS: It's really around being relevant for younger consumers. So, many younger consumers are not familiar with the history. And you don't have to be familiar with the history. So here, we have music every night. And everybody likes music. And we're able to bring young bands, older bands, and sort of bring a whole load of variety to our customers.
LAKHANI (voice-over): And it's not just in Hard Rock Cafes. The company added hotels and casinos to its portfolio, and the strategy paid off. Venues jumped from under $1 billion in 2003 to $3.5 billion in 2013, with casinos making up the largest chunk.
Now, the company is aggressively expanding in Asia and the Middle East, with plans for a hotel in Abu Dhabi, a cafe in Doha, in addition to their venues in Bahrain and Dubai.
DODDS: We've been here a long time. Our cafes have basically had a very successful run. This new cafe in Dubai has really performed extremely well. It resonates a lot with our Middle Eastern customers.
LAKHANI (on camera): Gaming has become a very big component of your business.
LAKHANI: Followed by cafes and hotels. So, why have a hotel here when you can't have gaming as part of the equation?
DODDS: Gaming is a huge part of our growth strategy. It's a very important part of our earnings and our general revenue streams. But in markets where gaming is not permitted, we still have growth and consumer opportunities in hotels and cafes.
LAKHANI (voice-over): Dodds says the company works hard to tailor needs to each market.
LAKHANI (on camera): So, do you do things differently in each country, each city that you're in? Do you design things differently?
DODDS: You used to go to a Hard Rock Cafe and they all looked the same. So, we changed that mechanic again as part of the brand re-invigoration, and we want everyone to be different and to reflect the personality of the building and the country and the people in that country.
LAKHANI (voice-over): And making a historic brand relevant in the modern day.
DEFTERIOS: Leone Lakhani at the Hard Rock Cafe with the chief executive in Dubai. That chain has a number of outlets, by the way, in the Middle East, including in Egypt. That country's going through political change, but the night life there seems to be immune. When we come back, we'll have more on the booming business of Cairo's party scene.
DEFTERIOS: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. Egypt remains in transition. There's political turmoil, the economy has stalled, and there's a controversial election coming up. But there's one sector that's starting to revive three years after the revolution. Ian Lee reports on why investing in Cairo's night life is playing dividends for some.
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the weekend in Cairo, and the city's upper crust is letting loose. The Garden in the Heliopolis neighborhood is one of the latest hot spots to open in the Egyptian capital. Behind the whirls, twirls, and clinking of glasses is some serious investment.
ISMAEL KASSEM, CO-OWNER, THE GARDEN: There hasn't been a better time to open and attract people to positive experiences as the time that we are in now.
LEE: That positive experience? Nearly a half a million dollars investment. The restaurant is booked solid every night. Reading the trends, Ismael Kassem and his partners are bullish about the future.
KASSEM: It's a very positive and profitable business if you play your cards right and you get the right flow of customers, it wouldn't take you a year, year and a half until you return on investment.
LEE: Their success is also attracting attention.
KASSEM: We have a lot of support from sponsors, from different international and multinational companies that see it as an opportunity to offer their brand and their experiences as well. And that makes it way more profitable.
LEE: Recently, at least five new drinking establishments opened their doors in the city, a sign the industry may be slowly shaking off three years of despair.
LEE: The downturn started with the 2011 revolution that ousted then- president Hosni Mubarak. 2012's election of an Islamist president, Mohamed Morsy, had the industry fearful for its survival. But he would barely last a year in office as a popular military coup ousted him in 2013.
Through the entire time, a shattered economy was kept down by violence and uncertainty. Across the river, Alchemy, known for drinks with a dash of chemistry, opened at the height of the turmoil in 2012. Alex Rizk, an industry veteran, understands better than most, the resilience of places like Alchemy.
ALEX RIZK, CO-OWNER, ALCHEMY: A lot of people, investors, looked at what is running and surviving the revolution, and the economic crisis. And that was mainly food outlets, coffee shops and, I would say, then, eventually night clubs.
LEE: Rizk says even amid uncertainty, it boils down to one simple thing.
RIZK: People do want to party, do want to forget their daily lives.
LEE: Building on their success, Rizk and his partners plan to open a new club soon. Kassem is also eyeing three new venues over the next three years, equaling millions of dollars in investment. But this is Egypt, where political and economic chaos persist. Neither Kassem nor Rizk take that for granted.
KASSEM: Of course we're bullish in terms of aspiration, but we're not foolish. And if we find it unprofitable, we're not going to go into it.
LEE: It's a balancing act they hope pays out in dividends.
DEFETERIOS: Ian Lee exploring the revival of Cairo's night life. For more about the program, visit our website, cnn.com/MME, or you can reach out and message us on Facebook as well.
And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST I'm John Defterios, thanks for watching. We'll see you next weekend.