Shaki, Azerbaijan (CNN) – Trading is in the life blood of Azerbaijan. As the link to east and west it was a vital rest stop along the old silk route. In the northwest city, Shaki, there are reminders of the country’s rich trading history and single remaining silk factory.
Mumbai, India (CNN) - India has been a nation of tea drinkers for centuries, but in the past decade coffee consumption has been growing. From Starbucks to Costa Coffee, coffee giants are moving into India, converting consumers from chai to cappuccino.
Last month, Starbucks opened its first outlet in India, partnering with Indian firm Tata.
“There's a tremendous amount of coffee being sold and served in this market,” Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and CEO, told CNN’s Mallika Kapur.
Turkey's geographical position at the crossroads of three continents is driving the success of Turkish construction companies abroad. Only China has more firms than Turkey among the world’s biggest international construction contractors, according to a recent survey.
The construction industry is crucial to Turkey's economy, accounting for well over 6% of GDP and employing some 1.5 million people. A readiness to move into new markets means Turkish construction companies now have operations in 94 countries, with a value of some $206 billion.
For decades there have been dreams of a railway network spanning from Asia to Europe, linking cities as diverse as Kuala Lumpur and Kabul in what is known as the "Iron Silk Road".
But the project is stalled and is facing major obstacles. One in particular is in South Korea. A map of the proposed railway network included the Korean peninsula, but restoring the North – South Korean rail network remains difficult.
Despite rising fuel costs, one sector that is not witnessing a downturn is defense. Rising tensions over Iran and growing security concerns are not only driving regional governments to boost their weaponry but are forcing them to boost protection as well.
The Middle East spent $111 billion on defense in 2011 and one company that wants to tap into that market is the Streit group, a Canadian company that is using the Middle East's strategic location to boost its growth.
Guerman Goutorov, chairman and founder of the Streit Group, began his quest from the garage of his home in Canada.
Karachi, Pakistan (CNN) –Pakistan's textile and garment sector is a $12 billion a year industry, supplying many US and European retailers like JC Penney, Walmart and Sears.
But a recent fire at a Karachi denim factory that killed more than 250 people has brought to the forefront the issue of deficient labor and worker laws.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) - In a Dubai luxury hotel amid a flurry of golden fabrics and iridescent lights, a young Indian couple ties the knot, with a guest list of cosmopolitan Indian glitterati donning bright gemstones and even brighter saris.
For the father of the groom, having the wedding in Dubai went without question.
“It's a different city. It's a different vibe. And the rich want to do things differently. Everybody can do something in India so let me do something different,” Indian businessman K. Rajaram told CNN’s Schams Elwazer.
Dubai is a huge wedding destination for Indian couples and it’s one of the mainstays of Indian tourism in the United Arab Emirates. Indian tourism to the Emirates has risen more than 12 percent this year to 700,000 visitors.
This month, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that the country is opening its retail and aviation industries to foreign investment. The move comes at a critical time for the country as the emerging market sees its slowest growth in some three years.
One sector that could see a boost is the Indian toy industry – weighed down by irregular taxation, excise duties and a lack of investment – many toy makers in Mumbai are looking optimistically to the future.
Suez, Egypt (CNN) - The Suez Canal is a crucial seaway and money maker for Egypt. Around 10 percent of oceanic trade will by pass through these narrow waters, earning Egypt over $5 billion a year. It is now helping to boost Egypt's economy even more.
It has long been a vital link between East and West. The Suez Canal sits at a crossroad, linking Asia, Africa and Europe.
Now Egypt wants to squeeze more out of this strategic location.
The idea is to turn this dusty 20 square kilometer patch of land into a special industrial zone called SEZone or Suez Economic Zone.
And one of the first order's of business: making it easier for companies to do business in Egypt by cutting through red tape and government bureaucracy.
Kazakhstan (CNN) - The thriving east-west trade that once spanned Central Eurasia along the famed Silk Road may soon be restored to its former glory thanks to growing transport and trade links being rolled out.
Central Asian countries have been working closely together to construct transport corridors, promote energy security, and remove trade barriers. They have shed outdated trade policies and adopted new rules to increase commerce.
Kazakhstan is one example where this is happening. Merchants passed through here on the ancient Silk Road hundreds of years ago. And now that trade between East and West is booming again, the government has decided it needs to upgrade its infrastructure.
Along the Silk Road
“Along the Silk Road” explores the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia – Beijing, Mumbai, Istanbul, Kabul, Moscow, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Dubai.
The series surveys the export-driven economies, countries with vast capitals of reserve and natural resources, that economic forecasters pinpoint as ringleaders of growth for the next quarter of a century.
Catch “Along the Silk Road” every Wednesday on CNN International within Global Exchange:
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