December 29th, 2011
07:11 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – I have always been fascinated by the international date line; The arbitrary line where one day gives way to the next. When flying across the Pacific I often try to stay awake for that moment when you gain or lose a day as you cross this artificial barrier. So Samoa’s decision to shift its dateline has enthralled me.

Samoa is slap-bang in the middle of the Pacific, just 20 miles from the U.S. side of the line. Currently, Los Angeles is two hours ahead, and Sydney, Australia - on the other side - a whopping 21 hours ahead. (Ed's note: Many thanks to everyone who pointed out our own time zone slip, which is now corrected.) According to the country, most business is done with Australia and New Zealand, so Samoans are losing out on two days of business, because of the timings of work weeks and weekends.

So on Thursday, at the stroke of midnight, Samoa will shift the line. And it will instantly be Saturday morning, just after midnight.

Friday would never have existed for those who live in Samoa. Vamooshed. (I know how it works, but I still can’t get my head around it).
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December 29th, 2011
04:21 PM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – The official mourning period for Kim Jong Il is over and the world's eyes - and in many cases fears - are now focused on Kim Jong Un.

We still don't know with any certainly how old he is, let alone whether he is capable of running a country.

At first, he will have plenty of help from his father's trusted circle of advisers. But analysts say one of the reasons he was chosen over his two brothers to succeed Kim Jong Il is that he most closely resembles his grand-father, Kim Il Sung, founder of the Communist north. If that is the case, it is unlikely to be long before he begins to flex his muscles, political or otherwise.

Kim Jong Un (above center, in a handout picture from North Korea's Korean Central News Agency) faces a clear - and intriguing - choice.

Does he follow the path of his father and grandfather and keep his country in isolation and his people cowed? This would mean he would remain beholden to China for his very survival while being shunned by most of the rest of the world.

Or does he look at his very own neighborhood and learn from two of the most economically successful models in the world: South Korea and China?

When Kim Il Sung founded Communist North Korea in 1948, the country had a bigger industrial base than the South and many more riches in the ground.
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December 29th, 2011
01:55 PM GMT
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Dubai, UAE (CNN) - China's fast-emerging middle class is providing a lifeline to the UAE's tourism ambitions, with the trickle of Chinese visitors to Dubai rapidly becoming a flood.

The drama and the glamor of the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, have made it one of the Middle East's glitziest draws for Chinese travelers. The UAE has spent millions of dollars on its luxury hotels and designer brands, which are proving increasingly appealing to the Chinese customer.

Last year the number of hotel guests in the UAE arriving from China jumped nearly 40%, but they're still only a small portion of the total tourists.

“The number of arrivals from China in 2010 was about 150,000 out of 8 million,” Liz Martins, a senior economist at HSBC MENA, told CNN’s Leone Lakhani.

She added: “It's a very early stage, but I think there are marketing efforts and where you're getting trade links, investment links and contracting links throughout the rest of the economy, actually that feeds through to a greater awareness - a mutual awareness between the markets - and that creates potential.”

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