The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 29 July 2016

Image: Getty Images

Port of call

Taiwan’s southern port of Kaohsiung duked it out with the world’s biggest container kings back in the 1990s but it simply hasn’t kept pace as seaports in China and South Korea have boomed. An injection of interest from Dubai’s government-owned DP World could be the refresh that Kaohsiung needs as the operator plans to make its seventh terminal accessible to ultra-large container ships. Taiwan stands to gain – with an update aiming to make the old port a global hub again by 2040 – and DP World also needs the new business: its home port Jebel Ali has seen traffic decline year-on-year and the operator has levied that with an aggressive roll-out to 11 facilities across Asia Pacific, a long-game route to rule the region’s waves.

Image: Salone Internazionale del Libro

By the book?

The Italian Association of Editors (AIE) has long locked horns with the country’s largest book fair, Turin’s Salone del Libro – and AIE president Federico Motta’s decision to leave the fair’s board spelt it out last February. But Wednesday’s decision by the association to back a brand-new fair in Milan – and forego Turin’s historic Salone – has created a rivalry that is hard to smooth over and that many say will deprive the Piedmontese capital of a fundamental cultural treasure. The Milanese version of the fair will settle in Rho – already famous for Milan’s Salone del Mobile – and take a Frankfurt Book Fair-style B2B approach. Undeterred, however, May’s 30th-anniversary edition in Turin is set to go ahead as planned – even if in the same month as Milan’s. It’s hard to believe that the two will be able to coexist much longer.

Image: Christopher Wise

Thai tourism

As Thailand rides a surging wave of tourism success its government is promising a more sophisticated offering for visitors. While Bangkok continues to be the heaving epicentre of short-stay holiday-makers and Phuket brings in the beachgoers, more discerning experiences are being championed off the beaten track. Agritourism is being given a push after farms in far-flung provinces were encouraged to open their gates to visitors over a recent long weekend, bringing in millions of baht (the equivalent of tens of thousands of euros). As culturally led tourism gets earmarked for development, a clampdown is occurring on the seedier aspects of Thai nightlife. The nation’s first female tourism minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, wants Thailand’s ubiquitous brothels gone and her voice is gaining traction as she strives to bring in wealthy overseas travellers and more women and families.

Image: Getty Images

End of tape


Videocassette recorders (VCRs) – the clunky black boxes that graced every 1990s living room – will soon be no more. Osaka’s Funai Electric, which has been churning out the machines for 33 years and is the last company in the world still to do so, has announced that it will cease production at the end of this month. VCRs were revolutionary, ushering in a new era of home entertainment. But they also drew ire, with the president of the Motion Picture Association of America trumpeting in 1982 that “the VCR is to the American film-producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone”. Ultimately undone by DVDs, the devices have not enjoyed a modern nostalgia-fuelled renaissance à la vinyl records and Polaroid cameras. However, they will no doubt continue to be savoured by certain film buffs as old-school flicks such as the 1991 drama City of Hope were never released on DVD.

From Monocle 24

Image: Felipe Dana/PA Images

Rio’s Olympic urban legacy

In this special episode of The Urbanist we look at the highs and lows of Rio’s urban makeover, how the city will be seen during the Games and more importantly what will remain after the Olympic movement leaves town.

From Monocle Films

Masters of glass


The small Venetian island of Murano has a grand glass-blowing reputation. In the glow of the furnaces, Monocle Films witnesses a new generation of designers at work.

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