The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 6 September 2018

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Out of the loop

Russia, Turkey and Iran are meeting to discuss Syria but the West is nowhere to be seen.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan sits down on Friday with his Russian and Iranian counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani, in the Iranian capital Tehran. Top of the agenda is Syria and how to tackle the Islamist groups that control the area around Idlib, near the Turkish border. The meeting is further evidence of the West’s retreat from Syria and Russia’s new strength in the region. “It’s the hypocrisy of geopolitics,” says Mathieu Boulègue from Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia programme. “We were more than happy for Russia to do the dirty work in Syria. But we now have to deal with the consequences. Whatever emerges from the chaos there will have a Russian element.” While Boulègue doesn’t yet see Russia as a “regional hegemon”, Putin has managed to remove the West and the UN from the table. Tomorrow’s meeting shows that all too clearly.

Legal

Image: Shutterstock

Settle down

Qatar is wooing foreigners – albeit a chosen few – with offers of residency in a bid to retain its appeal amid regional wrangling.

One year into a blockade imposed by its Gulf neighbours, Qatar is setting itself apart even further. According to a law that was decreed this week, the state will offer permanent residency to up to 100 long-term expats in the country each year. By dangling the permanent-residency carrot – not to mention the right to establish a commercial venture in the country – in front of foreign residents, Qatar is clearly hoping to entice them to stay put. Though 100 a year is the equivalent to a grain of sand in the desert considering that 90 per cent of the country’s population is made up of foreigners, citizenship carries jealously guarded rights that not many people have access to across the Gulf states. By allowing a chosen few to share some of those rights, Qatar is hoping its allure remains strong – blockade or not.

Transport

Image: Alamy

Steer clear

Low pay and long hours mean that Japan’s bus drivers feel they’re being taken for a ride.

Japan’s transport authority is having trouble keeping its bus drivers from veering off into new careers. According to new figures by the Ministry of Transport, around half quit after just four years on the job. It’s little wonder. Bus drivers’ average salary is considered low in Japan at ¥4.48m (€34,665) per year, and they work on average 2,520 hours during the course of 12 months – considerably more than the average full-time worker who clocks up 2,080. Low pay and extended hours are largely down to the country’s ailing bus companies, with 64 per cent of Japan’s 246 bus operators running at a loss. Worse still, this means that operators are under-serving some areas of the country with 14,000km of routes discontinued in the 10 years from 2006.

Books

Ink it in

London’s art-book fair has a carefully curated selection of workshops and events that will help put visitors in the picture.

London Art Book Fair opens today at Whitechapel Gallery in the UK capital. More than 80 publishers will take over the gallery space across four days, showing a delectable selection of visually rich art books. While the fair plays host to publishers big and small – from David Zwirner Books to Hoxton Mini Press – the space will give an equal platform to all, with a layout of identical tables. As well as the plethora of art books on sale, there will also be book signings, launches and workshops. There will be something for those with a penchant for lighter tomes too with the magCulture Quarter showing a selection of 18 independent magazines, including architecture title Real Review, food journal The Gourmand and feminist culture magazine Ladybeard.

From Monocle 24

Seedlip

The Entrepreneurs

Ben Branson spent a decade working for creative agencies, helping other people to build their brands. But in 2014 he decided to put his skills to the test on his own project. That project was Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirit born out of Branson’s passion for natural botanicals and hobby distilling. Seedlip has since become a huge success and is stocked in high-end London retailers and served in bars and restaurants across the globe. Branson explains how his experience designing toothpaste tubes helped him build the brand and reveals why he’s confident the market for non-alcoholic drinks is only just getting started.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Building Better Cities

Sometimes all you need to make a better city is some humanity, a sense of scale and keen citizens. Tune into this visual manifesto, which celebrates our latest book release.

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