The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 2 March 2016

Image: Alamy

Top of the Rock

Jamaica’s new leader Andrew Holness vowed to stimulate the country’s fragile but growing economy when he was sworn in as the island’s ninth prime minister yesterday. But Holness finds himself in an unenviable position: he won a tiny majority in last week’s election (32 seats to 31) making his mandate rather slim. His predecessor Portia Simpson-Miller, who had been in office for four years, led an unpopular austerity programme but succeeded in bringing the country’s economy back to growth. Holness would be unwise to distance himself from those achievements and should focus on bringing the young into the workforce – a whopping 38 per cent of whom are currently unemployed.

Image: Getty Images

Turkish delight?

Europe’s increasingly transactional relationship with Turkey will come into sharp focus in the coming days as European Council president Donald Tusk visits the country to talk about the continent’s refugee crisis. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already wrung money and concessions out of the Europeans in return for stemming the flow of refugees through Turkey into the EU. A summit next week between the EU and Turkey is expected to give renewed consideration to Turkey’s EU membership application. It all feels a long way from the days when Turkey’s membership appeared to be reliant on improvements to human rights, freedom of the press and an independent judiciary.

Image: Getty Images

Food of love

Despite increasing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia a little bit of Iranian culture has managed to bridge the divide: food. The restaurant chain Shayah, known as the “House of Iranian Cuisine”, has been operating in Saudi since the 1990s when Iranian chefs were able to work in the country’s kitchens. While there is a groundswell of support for a boycott of Iranian products across Saudi – Shayah has felt the need to prominently declare its Saudi ownership – the restaurant itself has remained as popular as ever. It may be the subtlest of soft-power wins for Iran but perhaps the way into a country’s heart is through its stomach.

Image: Alamy

Murray Road rises

Asia’s major property developers will soon be circling a multi-storey car park in central Hong Kong. The Murray Road building, earmarked for inclusion in the government’s latest annual land-sale programme, is the first prime commercial site to become available in Hong Kong’s high-density business district in just over two decades. The previous spot, sold in 1995, is now home to the iconic 2 IFC skyscraper, designed by Cesar Pelli and made famous by Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight. Falling visitor numbers may be driving down retail and residential rents but an increase in mainland Chinese firms taking up prime office addresses – or simply buying entire office towers – is pressuring the government to free up space for commercial development on Hong Kong Island.

From Monocle 24

Image: Benjamin Benschneider

Spotlight on sustainability

What does sustainability really mean? Can it be sexy? Does it have to hit quality of life? On this week’s edition of our weekly design show Section D we tackle the issue of sustainability in design – from architecture to automobiles, product design to fashion. In this extract, architect Tom Kundig tells us how he has seen the debate around sustainability develop over a career spanning 50 years.

From Monocle Films

Seoul design

Long overshadowed by its neighbours, Seoul’s creative community is flourishing as a new generation of designers, artists and entrepreneurs develop projects from product design to theatre spaces. Monocle’s Gabriel Leigh travelled to the South Korean capital to meet some of the people leading the charge.

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