The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 12 February 2016

Image: Alamy

Ministry magic?

As cabinet reshuffles go, the UAE appears to have had a pointed shake-up this week. It raised its roster of women to almost a fourth of the federal cabinet, which largely plays an executive role in this absolute monarchy. It also renamed a government body to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment; surprising, perhaps, for a big oil exporter. And finally it created two new ministries, for happiness and tolerance. But is all this ministry-making just wishful thinking? The Middle East is increasingly divided along razor-sharp sectarian lines and another dip in oil prices will likely keep budgets cautious. But putting the Emirates back into headlines about tolerance and happiness certainly made for a positive PR coup in inharmonious times.

Making waves

For his new movie A Bigger Splash – set on Pantelleria, the Italian island jutting rustically between Sicily and Tunisia – Luca Guadagnino wanted to create “a contained world of four people digging into one another”. Ralph Fiennes’s charmingly lairy record producer visits his ex, Tilda Swinton’s recovering rock star, supported and complicated by the former’s long-lost daughter and the latter’s current boyfriend. Something like a rock’n’roll version of Noël Coward’s Private Lives plays itself out: all of that knowing how to behave perfectly so you can misbehave brilliantly. “The concept of an electric rock’n’roll fever [led the film],” says the director of this dazzling, sun-soaked masterpiece. A Bigger Splash opens in UK cinemas today. To hear an interview with Luca Guadagnino, tune in to The Monocle Weekly this Sunday.

Image: Getty Images

Ray of light

One of the world’s major oil exporters is in the midst of a green-energy conversion at home. Under the Green Municipal grants scheme announced earlier this week, Canada’s federal government is setting aside CA$31.5m (€20m) to sponsor 20 city-based green projects in an effort to meet its climate-change goals. Among the initiatives funded is the transformation of Halifax, a city on the east-coast island of Nova Scotia, into a “solar city” where solar hot-water systems will be outfitted in residences. While municipal-level change is great, this is merely the appetiser. The entree should be served next month, when the nation’s first ministers will meet to hammer out a pan-Canadian strategy.

Image: Joe Kramm / R & Company

Artistic allure

Located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum today sees the opening of Beauty, the fifth edition of its design triennial series. The only museum in the US dedicated solely to historic and contemporary design, the recently renovated building hosts the triennial to showcase new developments in design from studios, fairs, shops, galleries and media. While “beauty” can often be a restrictive concept, the 250 works on display until 21 August take an expansive view of the term. Included in the exhibition are bright and whacky beaded sculptures by The Haas Brothers of California, pink and peach-hued earrings from Munich’s Hemmerle and a sleek dustpan by Adelaide’s Daniel Emma. All of them, according to director of the museum Caroline Baumann, provoke the “transformative power of aesthetic innovation”.

From Monocle 24

Image: Center for American Progress

Can an independent win the White House?



It has become a standard part of the US presidential cycle: just as the primaries heat up, the cry goes out for a third-party candidate who can bring together right and left. In 2016 it seems that the mythical third-party uniter will be Michael Bloomberg. But if he confirms his candidacy, can he win?

From Monocle Films

Lisbon’s road to retail

As well as bringing bright ideas to once-faded façades, Lisbon’s mix of self-starting shopkeepers and keen entrepreneurs has helped lift the mood of a city with plenty more to be optimistic about.

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