The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 10 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

Covert operation?

Government, United Nations and charity officials trying to process thousands of refugees moving through Europe each day are struggling to keep up. This has led to fears within the security community about exactly who is making the journey from Syria. “With the volume of people coming in there’s not a huge amount they can do about it,” says the Evening Standard’s defence editor, Robert Fox. But their concerns may be overblown. “Of course, there is some concern about Isis exploiting refugee flows into Europe to avoid detection,” says Shashank Joshi, research fellow at Rusi, a defence and security think tank. “But if you look at how dangerous these routes are, it’s unlikely that an organisation as sophisticated as Isis would find it necessary to use such channels.”

Image: Getty Images

Foreigners welcome

With Iran on track to put its oil on the market and prices per barrel continuing to tumble, Saudi Arabia is pulling out the stops to revive its slowing economy. The kingdom will now allow 100 per cent foreign ownership in its retail sector, it was announced while King Salman was in Washington to rev up American business interests in the Gulf state. There’s no doubt it’s a surprising move: more outward-looking GCC states such as the UAE are still drafting such a law. But it’s the latest in a series of cautious reforms that allow foreign investment in Saudi stocks, give women the right to work in select industries and vote. Their right to drive, however, remains less forthcoming.

Image: Getty Images

Come in from the cold

Something will be missing from the line-up of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) when it opens today. For the first time in decades there will be no dedicated Canadian-themed programme. This, organisers say, is a nod to the strength of Canadian film-making today – it’s good enough, they feel, to compete with the rest of the world. The Canadian film industry is experiencing something of a purple patch. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and even Canada’s Arctic North are becoming ever more popular locations for international production houses thanks to generous tax incentives. Meanwhile, the success of film-makers such as Quebec’s Jean-Marc Vallée has helped put a spring back into the industry. Stay tuned to Monocle 24 for more on TIFF throughout its 10-day run.

Image: iStock

Show your colours

National dress lets people express pride in their traditions and way of life. The German publisher Gestalten has published a book called Traditional Couture – a glorious celebration of the country’s numerous regional folk costumes, many beyond the wildest imagination of the craziest designers. And arriving in Munich you are immediately faced by stalls selling dirndls and lederhosen in preparation for Oktoberfest that begins in two weeks’ time. These stalls are bang next to the spot where refugees and migrants arrive in the city. It’s a reminder to all that getting to a country is one thing but becoming deeply rooted is another and can take generations.

From Monocle 24

Image: Leandro Ciuffo

The Entrepreneurs: Rio’s traditional retailers

Rio de Janeiro’s city hall is pushing to keep classic retailers alive through the city’s heritage foundation. Monocle’s Rio correspondent Sheena Rossiter visits the entrepreneurs behind traditional retailers to see how the initiative is helping to boost sales.

From Monocle Films

Taking the plunge

Swimming in the city got a boost this summer with the launch of inspiring new concepts in Berlin and London. We took a dip to explore the pool experiences on offer.

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