The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 23 December 2015

Image: Alamy

Tough times for Turkey

Turkey’s coastal south may be the birthplace of St Nicholas – patron saint of sailors that is, not the bearded Finn with the presents – but it’s been a quieter winter than most on these sunny shores. Russian sanctions against Turkey after the downing of one of its jets have ranged from turfing out Turks to banning poultry (yes, Turkey’s turkeys). But the curtailing of charter flights has had the most pronounced effect: some three million Russians head to Turkey each year accounting for about $4bn (€3.6bn) annually. The crisis also follows a troubled year in which Russia’s slowing economy led to a lower headcount on its beaches. Some argue that this may be a ripe time to overhaul how the world reaches Turkey’s south, with more flights to new markets rather than relying on charters.

Image: iStock

Christmas cars

The race to corner the app-based private car market in Dubai has taken a festive turn as Uber and local outfit Careem, which has “captains” across the Arab world, have squared off in increasingly outlandish ways in the run up to Christmas. It began with Careem offering to let users try out purchases from online retailer souq.com. Then came Uberchopper, a (semi) on-call helicopter for when you really need to skip midday traffic. After Uber vowed to deliver a Christmas tree “in minutes”, Careem’s co-founder Mudassir Sheikha donned a Santa get-up to make personal visits around town. The word is, however, that both are bracing themselves for a possible rebuke by the UAE’s regulatory body as local laws don’t quite keep pace with these online-driven enterprises.

Image: Alamy

Pole position

There’s a ski skirmish going on across the Caucasus as nations try to entice more travellers to their long-overlooked slopes. From Mount Elbrus to Tsaghkadzor in Armenia, investment is being bolstered to get skiers – especially from Europe – heading on-piste. Shahdag in Azerbaijan shows real promise: it opened in 2012 and today has 19 slopes with a handful of handsome hotels and lodges; now that Azerbaijan has introduced an e-visa, more should get to enjoy some of that manicuring. Another to keep an eye on is Gudauri in Georgia, a Soviet-built slope that is undergoing a flurry of investment including a new ski lift and an updated masterplan that smooths out some of its edges and creates several ski-in, ski-out resorts.

Image: Getty Images

Set the bar high

Raise a glass to small enterprises this Christmas with a beer brewed in the Holy Land itself. Carakale is Jordan’s first micro-brewery, situated just outside Amman and slowly gathering a roaring trade. It’s already on tap in the American Embassy and Carakale’s distinctive winged-cat logo hangs outside numerous bars around Amman that serve its signature blonde. Brewmaster Yazan Karadsheh says they’ll begin distribution in the US in the new year. “We are also working very hard to make our beer available at the airport and on Royal Jordanian Airlines,” says Karadsheh, who founded the brand in 2009. “It has long been a dream of mine to find our beers in the air: that will be the day I grant Carakale its official wings.”

From Monocle 24

Best of Section D

Josh Fehnert looks back over the design highlights of the past year. Tune in to hear from Renzo Piano, Michael Bierut and Isay Weinfeld, as well as reports from some of the best design shows of 2015.

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