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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 5 October 2017

Diplomacy

Image: Shutterstock

Greasing the wheels

Saudi-Russia oil talks should flow smoothly – even if the small talk won't be quite so slick.

King Salman travelled to Moscow yesterday, marking the first ever official visit by a Saudi royal to Russia. The trip will see King Salman meet Russian president Vladimir Putin to talk oil: the two nations are both members of Opec and discussions are expected to centre on extending a deal to cut production in order to tackle the glut of the stuff, which has driven down prices worldwide. Yet though the two countries are on the same side when it comes to the oil market, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be slippery moments. After all, Saudi Arabia and Russia support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict and Russia is a close ally of Iran.

Industry

Image: Getty Images

Getting creative

How do you harvest asparagus – and how do you make a stool? One Japanese prefecture is keen to show off its skills.

If you’ve ever wondered where and how Japanese cutlery and kitchen products are made, the Tsubame-Sanjo Factory Festival is the place to find out. From today until Sunday the artisans of this amazingly productive area in the Niigata prefecture will open their doors to the public. You can visit about 100 famous workshops and factories – not least Nihon Yoshokki, where they make kitchen products designed by one of Japan’s design greats, Sori Yanagi. Stainless steel is the signature material here but you’ll also see woodwork, iron and paper; furniture-maker Ishimoku will be holding workshops showing visitors how to make a paulownia stool. The rural region’s farmers will also be joining in with a concurrent Farm Festival. At Miyaji Farm, where they’ve been growing rice since the Edo period, they’ll be giving lessons in asparagus harvesting.

Art

Get the picture?

Tat from eBay, broken lights and champagne: Frieze London has definitely arrived.

Day one at the Frieze London art fair (London for contemporary, Masters for ancient to modern – we’ll get to that tomorrow) was bright and busy, with business brisk. Hauser & Wirth presented “Bronze Age”, a loving mock-up of a provincial museum, complete with broken lights and well-worn vitrines displaying artefacts sourced from contemporary artists alongside tat from eBay. It’s droll while making a good point about the relationship between “public” and “commercial” in art. Charlie Billingham’s swaggering Hogarthian cartoons and wallpaper at Madrid’s Travesía Cuatro and performance by Georgina Starr also warmed the cockles. That and a glass or two of Ruinart, of course.

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

River revamp

Too many cars clogging up the roads? No problem, says Sydney: just invest in a few more ferries.

Commuting by ferry between Sydney’s two business districts is set to get easier. New South Wales’s transport arm has announced that it’s buying four more vessels to ply the route between the CBD and the suburb of Paramatta, aiming to launch the first boats by mid-2019. It’s the latest in a string of government investments boosting the public waterway networks recently: a new ferry hub, Barangaroo Wharf, opened in June and six new ferries servicing Sydney’s inner harbour will be rolled out by year’s end. The initiatives are all part of Sydney’s 20-year plan to expand the role of its waterway services to help combat the city’s notorious traffic congestion.

From Monocle 24

Manolo Blahnik

The Cinema Show

Dana Thomas, contributing editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, reviews Manolo: The Boy who Made Shoes for Lizards.

From Monocle Films

Exploring London

Monocle Films partners Rosewood Hotels & Resorts to discover the secrets that London has to offer. Charlotte Rey shows us around the vibrant capital, taking us to her top spots and favourite haunts.

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