Havana, Cuba (CNN) - Cuba is experiencing a Russian invasion – but of a purely cultural kind.
According to the Cuban government, tourism from Russia has more than doubled in the last two years, an influx tour guides say has as much to do with Russian nostalgia for Cuba as it has to do with instability in favoured Russian vacation spots caught up in the Arab Spring.
Visitors can see mock ups of Soviet nuclear missiles at Cuban tourist sites - though 50 years ago the real thing led to a Cold War standoff.
The USSR once based thousands of military and intelligence personnel in Cuba, making the country a virtual Soviet colony. Now few traces of that era remain, except for the Russian embassy which still looms large over Havana, the country’s capital.
Cold War fears die hard, however. In July, Russia denied reports that the country was exploring new navel bases in Cuba.
But for now at least the greatest threat posed to the Russians who return to Cuba as tourists may be sunburn.
Afghanistan (CNN) - A team of international archaeologists are racing against the clock to salvage relics from an ancient Buddhist monastery at Mes Aynak in Afghanistan before it is destroyed to make way for a giant $100 billion open cast copper mine.
Brent Huffman, documentary film maker and professor at Medill Northwest University, in the United States, has spent months in the midst of a situation which illustrates the conflicting economic and cultural interests at play in Afghanistan today.
“There is $100 billion worth of copper right underneath the site,” says Huffman. “In order for a Chinese company to mine this copper they’ve got to destroy the whole mountain range and all the monasteries. It is a race against time.”
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.“
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.
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