Friday. 28/5/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Bernard Bodo

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Back in the mix

Art and architecture biennales might have already left the starting blocks but you can always trust a Serbian house music festival to hit the ground running. The organisers of Exit (pictured) have announced that on 8 July they will be bringing together thousands of people to dance to sets by the likes of Nina Kraviz, Paul Kalkbrenner, Tyga and David Guetta (the kind of artists you would imagine have not taken so well to offering unplugged live streams from their bedrooms).

And who would have thought that going to a wild techno party could even be good for your long-term health? To entice visitors to purchase a ticket, the organisers will be offering vaccines to artists and revellers coming from nations currently experiencing shortages. What’s more, there will also be 3,000 free opening-night tickets for healthcare workers. Visitors will have to show a negative result or proof of vaccination on arrival, which the organisers hope will encourage younger people to get the jab.

Serbia currently places among the top nations in Europe for its rate of inoculations and this strong performance is making the government confident in its announcement that life in the Balkan nation could be back to normal by 21 June. And what’s more normal than some serious summer clubbing? Let’s hope that the Exit festival can show us a joyful way out of our dancefloor hibernation.

Image: Alamy

Diplomacy / Argentina

Prior approval

Argentina has dropped its support of a lawsuit brought against Venezuela at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The case against Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro includes accusations of human-rights abuses. Argentina’s decision to pull out was apparently made in March, just after it also cut ties with the Lima Group, a US-backed multilateral bloc that includes Brazil, Chile and Canada, and was designed to help resolve Venezuela’s democratic crisis. While Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández has been critical of Venezuela’s human-rights violations, he’s apparently reluctant to be involved in any regime-change attempts. That might have something to do with tension on the far left of his coalition, including with vice-president (and former president) Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (pictured, on left, with Fernández). She has been a vocal supporter of Cuba, where her daughter received medical treatment, and of both Hugo Chávez and Maduro. Fernández clearly has a difficult balancing act on his hands.

Image: Shutterstock

Health / Asia

Upping the dose

East Asian nations were praised for their handling of the pandemic but have exhibited less urgency when it comes to vaccinations. Now that there have been some pockets of coronavirus resurgence, governments are looking to incentivise their reluctant populations to get the jab. Here are how three countries are getting on.

South Korea announced this week that people who have received at least one vaccine can go mask-free from July and gather in large numbers as soon as next month. That’s a first in Asia and follows the country’s target to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population by September, up from just 7.7 per cent now.

Taiwan (pictured) has had an unprecedented surge of infections in May, prompting the government to extend its highest level of alert until mid-June. Millions of vaccine doses are now on their way to the island and even mainland China has pledged vaccines and medical staff – an offer that has been met with no reply.

Hong Kong currently offers free vaccines to anyone above the age of 16 but residents have been reluctant to take them up, with only 13 per cent fully vaccinated so far. The government now plans to encourage people to get the jab by allowing those who have received one dose to party later into the night in bars and nightclubs.

Image: Mathias Depardon

Tourism / Iraq

Break with tradition

In March, soon after a visit by Pope Francis, Iraq began offering on arrival two-month tourism and business visas to citizens from nearly 40 countries, covering the EU and US. After almost 20 years of conflict, it marks an ambitious effort to attract new foreign investment – the first step towards building a viable tourism industry and revived economy. “The new visa-on-arrival offers an easy and affordable way to access a country that has been previously unattainable,” Russell Bennett, a British entrepreneur and security director of the Babylon Rotana on the Tigris river, tells Monocle. The take up remains low for the time being and many countries still have travel restrictions in place, but those living in Iraq say that it’s time to give the country a second chance. “Iraq’s cultural history is absolutely incredible and the world could learn so much more about it,” says Stephen Hickey, the UK’s ambassador in Baghdad.

Read more about our visit to the Iraqi capital and its tourism revival efforts in the June issue of Monocle, on newsstands now.

Image: Phillip Crocker

Urbanism / Vancouver

Force of nature

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, who died this week at the age of 99, leaves behind her a legacy of embedding nature in unassuming urban spaces. Having fled Nazi Germany with her family, Oberlander emigrated to the US where, in 1947, she was one of the first women to graduate from Harvard with a degree in landscape architecture. Her work has appeared across North America, and as far afield as Jerusalem. But it’s in her adopted home of Vancouver that Oberlander’s community-led gardens – such as the roof garden (pictured) at the city’s Central Library – and low-income housing projects truly transformed the urban space. It’s why she will posthumously be given the Vancouver Freedom of the City award, while a new Pritzker-equivalent international prize for landscape architecture will be awarded in her name this autumn. “Cornelia was a giant in the field of landscape architecture,” Charles A Birnbaum, head of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, tells the Monocle Minute. “Her legacy of built work and influence demonstrates how one person can shape a profession that has global impact and importance.”

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

Explainer 267: Nordic Council of Ministers series – Biodiversity

The global environmental agenda has been dominated by aims to reduce CO2 emissions but increasingly the Nordic countries are turning their focus to biodiversity and protecting nature. The third episode in our series looks at how the region is balancing the often-conflicting demands of CO2 reduction, industrial agriculture and the natural world.

Monocle Films / Global

Media on the move

We visit two bold companies finding canny ways to pivot their product for changing audiences. Transhelvetica, a Swiss magazine, and Spiritland, a London-based hospitality and audio venture, are each shaping the media landscape for the better.

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