Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is in Samoa’s capital Apia today for the annual Pacific Islands Forum. His 17 counterparts will be looking for signs that Canberra is ready to make good on a renewed commitment to the Pacific when they go into tomorrow’s closed-door session. A contentious topic is Australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees – particularly as next year’s meeting is set to take place in Nauru, home to one of Australia’s two controversial centres. The tiny island’s $6,000 (€5,100) journalist visa fee is viewed as a way of suppressing media coverage but president Baron Waqa plans to waive it during the forum. With the other detention centre in Papua New Guinea due to close in October, Turnbull has a year to shut down Nauru’s before Australia’s boisterous press corps is let loose on the island.
If you’ve tried to book a hotel room in Tokyo or Kyoto recently, you will know how difficult it can be. Yet change is afoot: when gloomy predictions last year revealed that Tokyo would need about 17,000 more hotel rooms by 2020, the hospitality industry swung into action and set about boosting accommodation in the country’s busiest cities. Now a new report from the property-services company CBRE suggests that the boom has been too zealous and projects that Japan will soon have an oversupply of guest rooms – and an extra 25,000 beds in Tokyo by 2020. The industry just can’t win. Yet as anyone looking for a decently priced room in Tokyo can attest, the room surplus is still some way off.
It’s official: the Louvre Abu Dhabi will finally open its doors on 11 November (only five years behind schedule). The dome-shaped museum, designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, will display collections from the Paris-based institution and loans ranging from an Ottoman turban helmet to an installation by Ai Weiwei. Saadiyat Island, where the museum stands, was designed as a cultural destination to rival Dubai and promote tourism. And while its mission has been delayed due to myriad reasons, not least a drop in oil prices, the opening of the first foreign branch of the Parisian landmark – to be followed by Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Abu Dhabi – will surely give the city the cultural clout it has long desired.
For some economists reviving the US’s Rust Belt seems too grand a task. But a new study by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy suggests there’s one advantage working in the region’s favour: communities in the country’s industrial heartland tend to be relatively small in size. The study found that small cities such as Albany, New York, and Grand Rapids, Michigan are better able to manage resources in an effort to build local talent in new industries or turn discarded industrial sites into much-needed housing and cultural institutions. Another factor in a city’s rebound, according to the study, is its proximity to larger and easily-accessible urban centres.
Despite our growing eco-friendly credentials, humans still waste too much water. Malmo-based industrial designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi has a solution: a futuristic shower designed by his clean-technology start-up Orbital Systems, which can reduce water usage by 90 per cent. It’s backed by Nasa-approved technology and the co-founder of Skype – but will this Scandinavian solution catch on around the world?
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