The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 13 December 2017

Geopolitics

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Hold your peace

Despite being enraged by Trump’s lack of diplomacy, Southeast Asia's Muslim-majority countries should take the high road.

As the Middle East continues to react to US president Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem, the Muslim-majority nations of Southeast Asia are proving equally incensed. Indonesia – the most populous Muslim country in the world – has seen thousands of protesters gather outside the US embassy in Jakarta. Meanwhile the Malaysian defence minister has called Trump’s unilateral move a “slap in the face for the entire Muslim world” and threatened to send his armed forces to the Middle East (to what end, it’s not entirely clear). Traditionally these countries have been positive role models for moderate Islam so hopefully these initial reactions will give way to reason and leaders will rise above the mindless provocation.

Energy

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Green shoots of recovery

Alberta, a major oil and gas producer in Canada, is preparing to change its ways.

The centre of Canada’s oil and natural-gas sectors has set out ambitious goals to become a leader in renewable-energy production by the year 2030. This week Alberta’s government will unveil the winning bids for several notable renewable-energy projects as part of its plan for clean power to supply two thirds of the vast province’s overall energy needs. Alberta is traditionally Canada’s most politically conservative province but it has been hit hard by the downturn in global oil and gas prices; it is only now emerging from recession despite Canada’s national economy being the fastest growing in the G7. By going green it could become a template for other oil-producing heartlands, struggling with the political and economic unpredictability of oil.

Business

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Big spenders

French retail-property company Unibail-Rodamco has just treated itself to an expensive Christmas present: Westfield.

While the US continues to witness the decline of shopping centres, a French firm is investing heavily in the future of bricks and mortar. Paris-based retail-property company Unibail-Rodamco has just spent $25bn (€21bn) to acquire Westfield, the mighty mall operator that has significant floorspace across the UK and the US (the Australian and New Zealand properties branched off into a separate company in 2014 and are not for sale). The deal will see the newly combined company operate retail properties worth €61bn and it will raise interesting questions about the size and shape of shopping formats in our cities, particularly in Europe. Plans are already in place to build a Milan mall so a new French owner could help more Westfields open up across the continent.

Tourism

Image: Getty Images

Razzle dazzle

Hong Kong’s illuminated skyline is a beacon of hope for the city’s tourism industry.

Every evening Hong Kong’s illuminated skyline shows of its big party piece: a co-ordinated light, sound and laser show involving dozens of the city’s skyscrapers. After dazzling tourists for more than a decade, the Symphony of Lights has been given a much-needed makeover this December, adding colour, LED screens and a classy score penned by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s generally been a good year for tourism, with a recovery in the number of visitors from China, Japan and South Korea. With the city currently lit up like a Christmas tree (see Monocle’s December/January issue) next year also promises to have plenty of sparkle.

From Monocle 24

Meaty business

Entrepreneurs Marc Cohen, Sefi Amir, Ethan Wills and Annika Krausz set up Boucherie Lawrence – a traditional butcher’s shop – in Montréal’s Mile End. While technology keeps the business running smoothly, it’s the personal attention that makes it a rare find.

From Monocle Films

Taste of Tuscany

With the historic estate of Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco as a base, food writer Emiko Davies sets out on a quest for delicious recipes with strong historic roots. From a cheese farm to a contemporary-art gallery, together we explore what this inspiring Italian region has to offer.

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