The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 5 January 2016

Image: David J Babb

Techie trade

Las Vegas might be better known for roulette wheels than robots but from tomorrow the city will be inundated with tech fanatics for the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show). The event attracted more than 170,000 attendees in 2015 and this year is set to feature more than 3,600 exhibiting companies, from wearable-device makers to home-security specialists. The structure of the trade show reflects the changing face of the industry: this year triple the space is being given to the Unmanned Systems Marketplace, demonstrating the inexorable rise of the drone, while the emphasis on virtual reality has also grown dramatically. “These scary mask-like helmets will be making a play for becoming mainstream this year both as games machines and business tools,” says Monocle’s technology correspondent David Phelan from Las Vegas. “Products from Sony, HTC, Microsoft and Facebook-owned Oculus Rift will be on display.” Look out for more CES coverage this week on the Monocle Minute.

Image: Getty Images

House proud

Venice’s Architecture Biennale lands in May and has already prompted a friendly tussle between Middle Eastern nations competing to establish who can pitch up with the best pavilion. This year, instead of going for a flash approach, curators from the UAE have revealed that they’re looking to evoke a more humble period in the country’s urban history. Curator Yasser Elsheshtawy, a professor of architecture in the UAE, is putting together an exhibition about the low-cost Sha’abi housing that was built in the late 1960s to house locals and provide modern amenities, just as the nascent Emirates’ oil boom was ready to blow. These houses, though concrete, were sensitive in form to the palm-leaf architecture that had long existed here and were – most cleverly – easily modifiable by their occupants. The pavilion should offer a pleasant twist from a country now known for its glittery high-rises.

Image: Alamy

Sweeping reform?

For most of the world a new year means a fresh start; Jakarta, however, is still picking up the pieces from New Year’s Eve – literally. Revellers left enough debris on its streets to fill 100 trucks: a whopping 700 tonnes. The city’s litterbug culture isn’t new but in 2016 the Indonesian capital’s progressive governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama should prioritise tackling it head on as part of his valiant urban-renewal efforts. “The general consensus here is that rubbish is someone else’s job to clean up,” says Angela Richardson, founder of the Clean Up Jakarta Day movement. By getting tough on a widely ignored littering law and improving waste-management schemes, Ahok could go a long way towards reversing that rubbish attitude.

Image: Getty Images

Spain’s gain

Planning a holiday in Spain this year? You could find yourself fighting for a sun lounger. Western Mediterranean countries are set to have a bumper year for tourism as holidaymakers look for alternatives to Turkey and Egypt. Concern over terror attacks and conflict that marred travel destinations in 2015 – including the downing of a Russian airliner heading home from Sharm el-Sheikh – has people looking for tried, tested and, most importantly, trusted beaches where they can soak up sun in peace. “Early bookings for destinations such as Spain and Portugal are well up year on year,” says Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents. “Spain in particular has seen very positive growth with customers.” Across the pond, US citizens have been advised against visiting Lebanon following last year’s terrorist attacks in Beirut; instead Lisbon and Barcelona are being touted as great places to get away.

From Monocle 24

James Mullinger’s new year’s resolution

James Mullinger has set himself the rather daunting task of performing his first ever stadium show to a (hopefully) sold-out audience in 2016 – and to make things a little bit harder he’s decided to film his efforts for television. Robert Bound speaks to the comedian about how making new year’s resolutions might just be the boost your career needs.

From Monocle Films

Singapore’s art scene

Singapore is not used to letting people do whatever they want and has subsequently been stuck with a moribund art scene. But the opening of the new National Gallery aims to change perceptions of the city-state both at home and abroad.

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