The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 26 April 2016

Image: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

Fond farewell?

President Obama hasn’t wasted his breath on his final official visit to Europe before his term ends in November. Last week he raised hackles in the UK for wading into the Brexit debate and yesterday, concluding his trip in Hannover, he promised to send 250 extra military personnel to fight Isis in Syria. But while he has done his best to appear decisive, one of his key policies in Europe is making him seem hopelessly ineffectual. His flagship Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is floundering, as opposition in both Europe and the US mounts (protesters in Hannover made their voices heard above the adoring crowds). Many now doubt the policy, which has been in the works since 2013, will get off the ground before Obama leaves office. That will leave one of his most ambitious foreign-policy plans in the hands of a new president who is unlikely to share in his enthusiasm.

Image: Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images

Culture call

Dubai Opera House put its first batch of tickets on sale on Sunday – opening night sold out in three hours – even though the building hasn't even been completed yet. The sale does coincide with the start of the Arabian Travel Market, the leading Middle East event for the travel industry, which continues until Thursday. The opera house is part of Dubai’s push to use its cultural acumen to lure more tourists to its shores as security concerns push travellers away from the likes of Egypt. Coupled with a growing mid-market sector as well as a raft of new hotels due to open around the city’s second airport, Dubai looks poised to welcome a broader array of globetrotters.

Image: Lillian Suwanrumpha

Wheels in motion

As the Southeast Asian start-up scene heats up, nations across the region are vying to become the central hub for a rapidly developing industry. Thailand is no exception. The government has just announced plans to create a $570m (€505m) venture fund to push the number of native start-ups beyond 10,000 in the next two years, half of which will be in the technology industry. It seems the nation is ready to enter the fray: well-educated Thais are returning home after studying overseas and increasingly looking to follow non-conventional career paths. But competition for market share in this burgeoning sector is fierce. Singaporean companies are also backed financially by an ambitious government, while Indonesia seems to be pulling out idea after idea. Its most lauded success? Home-delivery service Go-Jek and its Go-car app, about to go toe to toe – well, wheel to wheel – with Uber.

Image: Geren Lockhart

Bon appetit

Chef Travis Lett, along with his team from Venice Beach hotspot Gjelina, has travelled from California to Paris to take control of concept store Merci’s in-house kitchen this week until Saturday. Parisians will be thanking Merci for the chance to try the simple and healthy cuisine with a CalMed – that’s California Mediterranean – twist from what many consider to be LA, if not the US’s, best restaurant. But the chef himself is also grateful for the opportunity to cook in a new location. “Although I had to fly some products in from the US, such as smoked fish, it’s great to go to French farmers’ markets in Paris and adjust my recipes for French tastes.”

From Monocle 24

Eurovision 2016: Part 1

It’s all about Eurovision in our four-part weekly series leading up to the competition in Stockholm on 14 May. For the first show, our Eurovision correspondents Fernando Augusto Pacheco and Georgina Godwin talk to the Swedish ambassador to the UK; Christer Bjorkman, producer of the live Eurovision show; and Anna Frid of Abba, the group that put Sweden on the map as the winners in 1974. Plus: we welcome author and Eurovision expert Chris West and check in with our Stockholm correspondent Elna Nykanen Andersson.

From Monocle Films

Brain vs brawn

In the forest of Evjemoen, Norway’s officer-training school puts troops through an extreme test of endurance. It’s a physical and mental challenge but more of the latter in today’s world of modern warfare.

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