The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 20 June 2017

Media

Image: Reuters

Unwanted interference

Al Jazeera is facing uncertain times following a feud between Qatar and its powerful neighbours.

While Qatar can fly in cows to bolster its food supplies and reroute its airline to still make those onward connections to Australia, there is one aspect of the Saudi-imposed blockade that Doha can’t seem to work around: the airwaves. Al Jazeera was hit with a mysterious blackout on its social-media accounts over the weekend, while broadcast licences have been revoked – and the Saudi and Jordan bureaux shut – since the start of the spat. For one side of the blockade there must be some glee in all of this: since it launched in 1996, Al Jazeera has been a thorn in the side of the Middle East’s monarchs and autocrats, taking them to task in a way not typical of regional media outlets. Its own record is certainly not unblemished but Al Jazeera brought a contrarian voice to a region where Saudi typically sets the agenda. But its future, for now, looks rather uncertain.

Transport

Image: Alamy

Full speed ahead?

European manufacturers may soon be allowed to enter Japan’s lucrative railway market.

Japan’s closed railway market has frustrated EU officials for decades but Tokyo is now considering a change. As part of an economic partnership pact under negotiation with the EU, the Japanese government would require railway operators that it invests in to let foreign companies participate in bidding for contracts. In the past, safety regulations stood in the way: railway operators in Europe are mainly public entities while in Japan most are private companies, accounting for basic differences in how new trains and railway technologies are tested. But those differences have been chipped away at during meetings between companies and officials on both sides over the past few years. Given that Japan’s trains make more journeys annually than all 28 EU markets combined, Siemens, Alstom, CAF and other European manufacturers must be giddy about their prospects.

Fashion

Image: Martina Ferrera

Turning heads

A young Milanese label made buyers take notice at the city’s Fashion Week.

Milan Fashion Week Men’s came to a close this week with strong shows from Fendi and Giorgio Armani. Over the weekend, Prada was excellent, as were Marni and Salvatore Ferragamo, which presented striking second collections from head designers Francesco Risso and Guillaume Meilland respectively. Alongside these Italian behemoths, a small independent label also put on a show that made buyers take notice. Milanese brand Sunnei, founded in 2014 by Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo, has a team of just four but was a distinctive young voice on the city’s schedule. “We know Milan is a place for big companies but we have our space here,” Messina told us after the Sunnei show, which featured loose-fitting trousers and stripes aplenty. “We want to show people the new ‘Made in Italy’, not the traditional one.” The menswear circuit now jets to Paris; check back on the Monocle Minute for updates throughout the week.

Culture

Image: iStock

Creative spaces

Culture is at the core of the Big Apple and now the city is looking to boost the sector.

What is a city without artists? It’s neither exciting nor creative and that’s why New York is investing in boosting jobs in the cultural sector. Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a 10-year plan that aims to create 100,000 well-paid jobs in fields as varied as technology and culture. The 25 initiatives that make up the New York Works plan include establishing the Big Apple as a centre for cybersecurity, securing artists affordable studios and well-paid jobs within visual arts and media, and appointing the city’s first nightlife ambassador, following the example set by Amsterdam. Cultural affairs commissioner Tom Finkelpearl called the creative sector the “soul of this city” and said that “this plan will strengthen the entire cultural ecosystem”.

From Monocle 24

Image: Joel Redman

Culture with Robert Bound

Newlyn School of Art

Culture editor Robert Bound packs his easel and catches the train from Paddington to Penzance to meet those discovering the restorative and creative power of painting at the Newlyn School of Art in Cornwall.

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