Tuesday 6 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 6/6/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Leila Molana-Allen

Into the void

In May 2022, Lebanon’s citizens went to the polls without much faith. They did, however, have the faint hope that casting their votes might finally bring some change to the failed state. Twelve fresh independent MPs were elected, people who seemed to have the skills and experience in areas such as finance, law and environmental science to turn the country around. Ten per cent of parliamentary seats went to these Change MPs – a small crop but not an insignificant one. Yet, since the election, all parliament has done is disappoint.

For Lebanon, last week marked a full year without a government. The country’s prime minister-designate, Najib Mikati, has been unable to form a cabinet that the warring parties will agree upon. His caretaker government, which is operating in the interim, does not have the authority to institute any of the desperately needed reforms. Now the political brawling has extended to the post of president, which has been vacant since November, meaning that Lebanon has existed in a power vacuum for seven full months.

While politicians bicker, things are only getting worse outside the walls of parliament. The currency has lost more than 98 per cent of its value, pensions are worth next to nothing, medical costs are soaring and daily food bills are becoming unmanageable. Lebanon might soon be grey-listed by international financial institutions, making things even harder for businesses that are struggling to keep their doors open.

Lebanese people have been reduced to asking for so little: not even a good and honourable government but any government at all. Parliament must remember who it is there to serve and overcome petty squabbles to do its job, lest the country’s citizens lose what little faith in democracy that they have left and avoid the ballot box altogether next time.

Leila Molana-Allen is Monocle’s Beirut correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Security / UAE

Drifting away

The UAE has withdrawn its participation in the US-led Combined Maritime Forces. The coalition mainly works to protect against sea-based threats, such as piracy on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, but unofficially it also serves as a counter to Iran. Though the UAE will remain a partner nation, the country claims that it will focus on dialogue and diplomacy instead. “In the past year countries in the region have decided to move forward on their own to ensure stability and security, with the UAE and its neighbours looking at how to bring Syria back into the fold,” says Mustafa Alrawi, acting managing director of CNN Business Arabic in Dubai. “Their strategy is to be as self-reliant as possible and not to be buffeted by decisions taken in Washington.”

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Vatican & Ukraine

Higher purpose

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi (pictured) arrived in Kyiv yesterday for a two-day peace mission. The Vatican has tasked Zuppi with discussing “possible ways to reach a just peace” with Ukrainian authorities and supporting “gestures of humanity that may help ease tensions”. The trip follows last month’s meeting between Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“It is very important for the Pope to be seen talking to everybody,” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, tells The Monocle Minute. According to Gallagher, the Pope is neutral in the conflict but not indifferent. “Zuppi’s mission is a trial to explore the possibility of a future papal visit to both Ukraine and Russia,” says Gallagher. “That might make a significant contribution to bringing about a resolution to this conflict.”

For more on the Vatican’s peace mission in Ukraine, tune in to ‘The Briefing’ tomorrow at 12.00 London time on Monocle Radio.

Image: Alamy

Culture / Japan

Soft sell

The arrival of a new Studio Ghibli film is big news in Japan and beyond. This summer the studio responsible for animated classics such as My Neighbour Totoro (pictured) and Spirited Away will release How Do You Live?, writer-director Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature-length anime since 2013. The film will debut on 14 July with no advance previews or advertising beyond a single poster that reveals almost nothing about it.

As one of the world’s most admired directors, 82-year-old Miyazaki hardly needs to give How Do You Live? the hard sell but few others would have the same confidence – or indifference to commercial imperatives. In a new interview streamed at the weekend, the film’s producer, Toshio Suzuki, said that many modern trailers reveal too much and that audiences will approve of Studio Ghibli’s low-key launch. “Deep down, it’s what moviegoers desire,” he said.

For more on Studio Ghibli’s forthcoming film, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio at 07.00 London time.

Image: Yiorgos Kaplanidis


Enduring fashion

Having built a loyal community around her Mouki Mou boutique in London, Maria Lemos has opened a second outpost in her native Athens. She is confident that the brand will find a similar audience of Athenians who share her appreciation of craft. The shop in Plaka – the city’s oldest neighbourhood, known for its cobblestone streets and neoclassical homes – features a selection of homeware, jewellery and womenswear that reflects its founder’s slow-fashion ethos.

“Our customers shop for pieces that they will be able to keep for the rest of their lives,” she tells Monocle. The brand aims to reintroduce a more mindful approach to shopping. “That had been lost in Athens,” she says. “But there is a growing Greek audience who appreciates design that’s artistic and has a certain purity. It gives me carte blanche to rediscover my hometown.”

For more on Mouki Mou in Athens and other fresh retail and fashion stories, pick up a copy of Monocle’s June issue, which is on sale now. Or subscribe today so that you never miss an issue.

Image: Sundance

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Design

Rebranding Sundance

We speak to the duo behind the Sundance Film Festival’s latest rebrand. Plus: Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E Carter and the curator of an exhibition of work by photographer Man Ray at Momu in Antwerp.

Monocle Films / Spain

Why we love spain

Spain is one of the countries that our editors have consistently begged to visit over the years as they attempt to understand its wholesome hidden depths. Here are 10 things that have us hankering for more.


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