The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 16 February 2016

Perfect timber

Hungary is in the lead with 21,211 votes, the Czech Republic is a close second with 19,912 votes and Wales has a humbling 98. But the Welsh do have until 29 February because that’s the date that voting closes in the European Tree of the Year 2016 competition. Think of it as a sort of arboreal Eurovision with some of the continent’s biggest, oldest, most culturally important specimens doing battle for the big prize. The event was initially a Czech affair, and is still organised in part by the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation, but has since spread its roots across Europe with the help of the EU. Contest co-ordinator Andrea Krupova says that the winning tree not only gets handsome recognition but also a cash prize. Head here to decide who gets your jury’s vote.

Image: Kohei Take

Refreshing changes

A scrap-and-build mindset has been the norm in Japan’s real-estate sector for decades. Tokyo-based Rebita has made a name for itself by doing the opposite: finding rundown, vacant retail and office properties and converting them into shared-living quarters with large communal kitchens and lounges. It’s an attractive and affordable option for young Japanese. In March, Rebita, a subsidiary of railway company Keio, will open its first hotel, Hatchi, in Kanazawa, on the Sea of Japan coast. A renovated half-century-old office building near the city's historic Higashi Chaya district, the five-floor hotel will feature rooms with bunk beds (some women-only) and small private quarters targeting budget travellers, an underserved market. It also aims to promote independent, Kanazawa-based entrepreneurs, with a ground-floor restaurant by AKA, coffee stand by Hum&Go and souvenir shop by Gift.

Image: Getty Images

Gaining altitude

The biggest and brightest names in the aerospace industry checked into the Singapore Airshow today to soak up the spectacle that is the region’s largest and most important aviation event. While Singapore Air Force's F-15SG strike force dazzles overhead and Asia’s growing list of carriers size up Boeing and Airbus’s best offerings, it could be the smaller players stealing the show this year. Some experts say that 2016 could be the year that small to medium-sized plane manufacturers convince local carriers that options such as Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop and Mitsubushi Regional Jets are the smartest investments for increasing the number of short-haul flight paths. “These are the aircraft that have had a little bit of success in Southeast Asia,” says Greg Waldron, the managing editor of the Asia wing of website Flightglobal. “But now they’re really looking to crack the market open with the growing sophistication of Asian carriers and its better airports.”

Image: Shahid Ahmed Siddiqi

Building a legacy?

Dubai Municipality has tried numerous times to get its central creek entered into Unesco’s World Heritage hall of fame, hoping to add another tourism notch ahead of Expo 2020 – so far to no avail. With another Unesco inspection looming in October, the city has decided that a rebrand might swing things in its favour and the creek has been renamed Khor Dubai (Dubai Creek): The Traders’ Harbour (because every heritage site needs a colon in its name), intended to show that the natural inlet of seawater was central to the origins of this trading-port town. This has been coupled with an extensive upgrade plan for signage, lighting and infrastructure in the area. But ultimately it’s Unesco’s Outstanding Universal Value metric that will prove the decider; there are some things that money just can’t buy.

From Monocle 24

Image: R Nial Bradshaw

How do you know what to read?

Monocle’s Robert Bound trials a nice idea from new reading consultancy Get Booked, a recently founded business by literary agent Lisette Verhagen. It’s somewhere between a book club, a chat with a well-read new friend and a session on an analyst’s couch. It satisfies a curiosity about books and about ourselves.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Quality of Life Conference, Vienna, Austria

Our intimate gathering returns in 2016 and this time it will take place in Vienna. Monocle invites you to a weekend of great debate, good conversation and peerless hospitality – and some fun nights too. It’s a weekend where contacts can be made, ideas nurtured and horizons expanded. Join our editors, correspondents and key thinkers in discussing topics ranging from architecture to independent retail, transport to healthy living. Book your tickets here.

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