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Who would you appoint to care for your most valuable and treasured items? It’s not a huge crate but it does contain a pair of Gurskys, a rather large piece from David Willen, a Gio Ponti dining suite, some of your mom’s early paintings and a burlap sack (10kg) of Swedish gold coins from your great-grandmother’s house in the eastern Baltic.

Would you leave them in the care of the smiling, laid-back gentleman at Sal airport in Cape Verde? Would you ­happily hand them over to the slow-moving but thorough guard at Doha’s cargo facility? How about the UN and EU-protected airport in Pristina and the sharp young lady wielding a bar-code wand and a Panasonic Toughbook?

Or are you perfectly at ease with the squat little man with the big moustache, ­Appenzell accent and cow earring at Zürich airport? On looks and attitude alone it’s not the easiest call. Or is it? With little to work with on a personal level, where do you go next?

You’ve never heard of any of the outfits these people work for and you haven’t spent much time in any of these countries, so how do you gauge the security of your assets? Are you forced to fall back on national stereotypes and recent news flashes from Reuters? I’m afraid so. We devoted a good chunk of our issue 06 to both nation-building and branding and we even went so far as to create our own nation state by encouraging a chunk of Liguria and a sliver of south-eastern France to break away and declare independence. The union created a sunny new country called Costazzurra.

In this issue the themes of national reputation and brand-building extend across six stories but express themselves in different forms with the future of each nation secured, undecided or grim.

01 National values

——— From the runways in London, Zürich and Frankfurt our contributing editor Johnny Davis reports on the business of transporting high-value cargo and how the sector is flourishing thanks to the ongoing ascent of gold prices. The winner? Flag carrier swiss has cornered the market in shuttling everything from bullion to Boteros in the bellies of its Airbuses. The country’s reputation for stability, security and logistics management play a big role in creating a positive halo around the airline’s operations. The knack for keeping secrets also helps.

02 Canal plus

——— Panama has long enjoyed hub status in Latin America but the country is on the verge of moving beyond being a regional player. With money and talent streaming in from around the world, Panama is using everything from the canal to its much admired flag carrier Copa to make itself an emirate of the Americas.

03 Verde’s greatest hits

——— Cape Verde is stable, safe, perfectly positioned and rarely in the headlines – four claims that few, if any other, African countries can make. On the eve of the launch of the country’s first large-scale resort compound our correspondent Andrew Mueller looks at the country’s chances for creating a name for itself and finds it has no shortage of friends looking to lend it a hand. They might want to start by picking up some of the rubbish.

04 Purely for sport

——— Qatar has taken a multi-channel approach to making a name for itself. If you’re not attracted by the incentives offered by the Qatar Financial Centre then you can always connect through to the Maldives on Qatar Airways. If you want to wield serious influence in the region and keep Washington on its toes you can start a TV network dubbed Al-Jazeera and if that fails to gain recognition for your sawtooth flag you can engineer the world’s next squad of David Beckhams. From dusty Doha Monocle’s editor Andrew Tuck looks at a nation’s sporting chance at international fame.

05 Pristina condition

——— Declaring independence is one thing. Doing so when you have an unemployment rate tipping 50 per cent and a nation over-run by organised crime syndicates is quite another. Adam Lebor touches down in Pristina on the afternoon independence was declared and witnesses the birth of the world’s newest nation. Nader Mousavizadeh spent time in Kosovo while working with former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and delivers a “where next” road map for the nation, its friends and neighbours.

06 Channel idents

——— Taking cues from Qatar’s leadership, a host of nations have either launched or are planning multi-lingual news channels to make their impression on viewers and win influence in capitals friendly and otherwis

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  • The Foreign Desk