The United Arab Emirates is preparing to mark a new national holiday on Monday that will commemorate those who have died serving their country: Martyrs’ Day. The event is also closely linked to the UAE’s ongoing battle with Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen. Although led by Saudi Arabia, the war has stoked renewed nationalism in the Emirates and signalled a change in the country’s hitherto reserved attitude to intervention. This week, the news broke that the UAE has secretly deployed 450 Latin American mercenaries to Yemen; a further sign of how the Gulf state is asserting itself militarily in the region. Still, the UN says the war has left 82 per cent of Yemen’s population in need of humanitarian assistance; the UAE would be wise to remember this as well come Martyrs’ Day.
In the lead-up to the climate conference in Paris, Indonesia is eager to redeem itself for shrouding most of Southeast Asia in haze and smog in August and September. Earlier this week president Joko Widodo announced that peatlands and swamps can no longer be converted into palm oil and timber plantations. The process had involved a slash-and-burn method causing forest fires that spiralled out of control. On Thursday, Widodo was in a South Kalimantan nature reserve to kick off a month-long tree-planting campaign, vowing to restore Indonesia’s role as the “lungs of the world”. This week 8,000 trees have been planted but much more needs to be done before neighbouring countries can heave a sigh of relief.
A new Bay Area start-up is giving home cooks a platform to share their domestic talents with neighbours. Through Josephine, users can order dinner online from a list of nearby menus and then pick it up from the chef’s home. Launched by Charley Wang and Tal Safran, Josephine is a result of the duo’s mission to bring home-cooked meals back as well as foster a sense of neighbourly hospitality. While it might be natural to have some reservations about the lack of regulation guarding Josephine, all of the home cooks are vetted both for cleanliness and quality before being able to dish out dinner to their neighbours through the service.
Bookshops across the UK will be celebrating Civilised Saturday this weekend in an effort to help book-lovers recover from the frenzy of Black Friday sales. Instead of extreme discounts, customers will be treated to cake and glasses of Prosecco. The Booksellers Association – a trade body that promotes book retail in the country – is spearheading the day. It wants to promote the idea that bookshops should be calm, relaxing spaces where book fans can peruse pages rather than throw elbows to get to the best deals. “I thought it was a perfect riposte from the book industry to Black Friday,” says Marie Moser, owner of The Edinburgh Bookshop, about her decision to take part. “A book is not a quick thing. It’s a work of art. Recognising that with an event shouldn’t be about dropping the price.”
The US economy grew a little more than initially reported in the third quarter of 2015, with the GDP growth reading revised to 2.1 per cent from 1.5 per cent. The details were less encouraging: much of the increase was due to a downward revision to inventory run-off, which is likely to mean that growth in the fourth quarter of 2015 may come in lower than expected. Consumption was also revised down and is the key component of US growth in 2015. UBS analysts continue to expect it to accelerate modestly in 2016.
From Monocle 24
In the east of Paris, one cultural centre is showing why it’s important for the city to fight for its position as one of the world’s culture capitals.
From Monocle Films
Dazzling silver flatware, a clear leader in the glassware game and sturdy alpine-inspired furniture: we survey Vienna’s best inner-city makers.