The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 11 March 2016

Tourist tumult

The European refugee crisis has made it to the world’s foremost travel trade show ITB Berlin as panels discuss the challenges – and the employment opportunities – that migration poses for tourism. It’s also what brought Aziz Abu Sarah, a conflict resolution researcher and co-founder of Mejdi Tours, to the convention. Since 2009 Mejdi Tours has been offering “multiple-narrative tours” that aim to improve understanding between different religions and cultures. The company started with trips to Israel and Palestine aimed primarily at Jewish Americans but today offer tours to places such as Northern Ireland, Cuba and Iraqi Kurdistan. Abu Sarah says he decided to take Mejdi Tours to ITB for the first time this year because he now sees a demand for his kind of tourism beyond the US. “Problems happen when people are afraid,” he says, explaining he wants to do something in Germany. “You can’t tell them they can’t be afraid – you have to meet their concerns.” ITB Berlin runs until 13 March.

Caravana of love

Not long ago Mexico City wouldn’t have been feted for its design but that’s starting to change – and with a shift in sensibilities comes a swathe of new design fairs. The latest incarnation is Caravana Americana, which opens today in the stunning Estación Indianilla, a former tram-repair factory turned cultural centre. “This is a platform for designers to export, to become more professional and to be seen around the world,” says Regina Barrios from organisers Lago. The three-day fair features a predominantly Mexican ensemble, including furniture from Ricardo Casas, lighting from Candela (pictured) and jewellery by Daniela Bustos Maya. There will also be food, music and mezcal cocktails aplenty. Easy on the latter perhaps.

Image: Alamy

Course correction

Back in 2010 Canada’s then-Conservative government initiated a shipbuilding strategy aimed not only at replacing its antiquated combat and non-combat fleets but also giving domestic manufacturers a CA$38bn boost (€26bn). Despite initial promises to keep the new ships made and designed in the country, Canadian companies might be shunted from hi-tech components and relegated to providing less advanced products such as furniture and heating systems under a CA$26bn (€17bn) agreement with Halifax-based JD Irving to build military vessels. To streamline production times Irving wants to settle on an existing model already in the market, indicating that manufacturing of hi-tech proprietary aspects will be outsourced to foreign firms. Other Canadian businesses in the industry are stepping up their efforts to persuade the Liberal administration to change course.

Image: Rin Johnson

Fugly food

Selling beauty is easy but to combat food waste (and potentially boost sales) supermarkets are banking on stocking misshapen produce. Following the success of a campaign by France’s Intermarché, which urged customers to embrace the unique and unsightly among the fruit and vegetable selection, Whole Foods in the US has announced a collaboration with delivery service Imperfect Produce to introduce unattractive produce to stores in northern California next month. In the US one in five fruits and vegetables won’t meet grocery stores’ cosmetic standards – leading to 60 billion kilograms of waste per year. If Whole Foods can make cosmetically challenged produce as sexy as the French can, it could be good for business and for unnecessary waste.

From Monocle 24

Image: xiquinhosilva

Canberra: a purpose-built political city

Canberra is the seat of the Australian government and is a purpose-built capital just like Ottawa and Brasília. Karen Middleton, the political correspondent for The Saturday Paper, explains how the urban world and government shape each other.

From Monocle Films

Death watch

The Dutch design academy at Eindhoven, in collaboration with Dela — one of the Netherlands’ biggest funeral insurers — decided to rethink the way we’ll be remembered in a world where religion has taken a backseat. The task set for students was to come up with design solutions for a better way to go. We take a look at their dead interesting work.

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