Kolkata, India (CNN) - It used to be the jewel in the crown of the British Empire - a beautiful colonial city in India's east.
Its strategic waterfront location made Calcutta a crucial trading hub. But in recent years, the city - left out of India's growth story - has become a shadow of its past, overtaken by business friendly cities like Mumbai and Bangalore.
Now, there is a determined effort to revive the city and make this former trading center a modern day business hub.
Hong Kong (CNN) - With the number of visitors from the Middle East to Asia on the rise, Hong Kong is re-examining what it has on offer to entice more travelers to its sights.
Since 2000, the number of visitors to Asia from the Middle East has surged from around 600,000 to over 1.6 million annually.
But Hong Kong only attracts a small portion of those visitors, a situation it is trying to change by promoting itself as a gateway to China for Mid Eastern travelers.
The city already has a sizeable Muslim population. According to Mohammed Khan, one of 15 Muslim leaders of Hong Kong's Islamic Council Union, there are no firm estimates of the number of Muslims in Hong Kong but at his “guestimate, it's around half a million people.“
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) – When Facebook went public in May it became the biggest stock launch of the year, but the two next biggest initial public offerings had something in common - they were both Malaysian companies.
In June, Felda Global Ventures Holdings raised $3.1 billion in shares, and a month later IHH Healthcare raised $2.1billion. Both are Malaysian and for both, key investors came from the Middle East.
“Middle East investment is highly important,” Fung Siu, Asia editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNN’s Ayesha Durgahee.
Kolkata, India (CNN) - Kolkata’s Chinese community has been a key part of the city’s cultural and social fabric for more than 200 years. But now the city’s “Tonga” town is disappearing.
Once home to tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese, Kolkata has only around 2,000 today. They came as immigrants to India in the late 18th century, most finding work in this bustling port city.
Many left India because of ethnic tensions following the country's war with China in 1962. Now, more are going – though their reasons are different.
Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) – India’s contemporary art has been making a splash on the international scene in recent years, and now Bangladesh is trying to emulate its success.
Monirul Islam is considered one Bangladesh's most influential artists. In the 1960s he moved to Spain on a scholarship, and since then he has represented his native country's art scene abroad. He says it’s still difficult for Bangladeshi art to get noticed overseas.
“You have to go Europe, America, the art world, to expose our art. It's very difficult,” he told CNN’s Leone Lakhani.
(Johannesburg) CNN – It is being dubbed by some as the “Second Scramble for Africa” - millions of acres of land being snapped up by companies from Asia and the Middle East.
The land rush was in part spurred by the food and financial crisis of 2008, when corporations, investment funds and governments began to re-focus their attention on agriculture as a profitable commodity.
Massingir Agro-Industrial is a South African and Mozambican company that has been given the use of 30,000 hectares of land in Massingir, western Mozambique, by the country’s government. Backed by European investors, once feasibility studies are complete, the company will begin planting sugar cane to produce sugar - 80% of which will be exported to Europe.
Under the deal, local villagers will not be relocated. Some land will be left for the villagers but the vast majority of it will be off limits.
Mumbai, India (CNN) – After years of growing at a breakneck speed of around 9%, the Indian economy is running out of steam and the manufacturing sector is suffering.
External problems like the crisis in Europe, plus domestic troubles like inflation, are hurting manufacturers, forcing some to shut up shop, scale back - or in some cases, start manufacturing in China.
Ashish Saraf is CFO of Technocraft Industries. His factory outside Mumbai makes yarn, cotton, clothes and engineering equipment. Almost everything is exported so Saraf keeps a close eye on exchange rates, watching as the rupee slid about 25% versus the dollar over the past year.
Usually, when the rupee weakens, Indian exports become cheaper, so buyers overseas order more. But that’s not the case for Saraf because, he explains, the European crisis has completely wiped out demand for his goods.
Tbilisi, Georgia (CNN) - In marshland off Georgia's Black Sea coast, Georgia’s president plans to build a brand new city – which he wants to call Lazika.
The promotional spiel promises dazzling skyscrapers and a special economic environment to make this the ideal spot, according to the Georgian government, to live and do business. Plus it will house another port - along a coastline teaming with ports - to support Georgia's role as a major hub for international trade.
Georgia owes much of its growth - which was nearly 7% last year - to its strategic location, straddling East and West. As well as being an important transit point for Chinese goods, Georgia is also home to Chinese companies investing directly in various sectors of the economy, from manufacturing to tourism to energy.
Which cities can boast more than a dozen bagpipe factories? Edinburgh? Glasgow? How about, Sialkot, Pakistan?
Sialkot is located in north-east Pakistan, some 125 kilometers from the capital Lahore. Legend has it that the city started making bagpipes during the British Raj, when a Scottish businessman came to town and set up a factory.
More than a century later Sialkot is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of bagpipes, with more than a dozen bagpipe factories, both big and small.
Abu Dhabi (CNN) – Growing economic ties between the UAE and South Korea are encouraging an influx of Koreans into the Gulf nation.
There are currently an estimated 7,500 Korean in the UAE, and that number is expected to reach 13,000 in the next two years.
Lee Hyo-Won owns a restaurant in Abu Dhabi and has experienced the influx first hand. “Twelve years ago, it's not easy finding Koreans in the street. Now we can see anywhere, shopping malls, schools, it's easy to find Koreans,” she told CNN’s Schams Elwazer.
Last year, trade between South Korea and the UAE grew 24% to $22 billion. The boom is riding the economic momentum created in 2009 when the UAE granted a South Korean consortium a $20 billion contract to build four nuclear reactors - the first in the region outside of Iran and Israel.
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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