Thursday 26 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 26/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Dan Wilton, Anna Nielsen

Business / Josh Fehnert

Castles in the sand

Today marks the launch of the latest issue of The Entrepreneurs, our business-minded annual that might just inspire you to jack in your job, seek out a new career or start something for yourself. Among the lessons we learnt from compiling the magazine is that success takes graft, good ideas and some dumb luck. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being in the right place at the right time. A series of conversations with readers and business owners led us to create our first nation special of The Entrepreneurs, including a dedicated section on business in the UAE, a country about which many have firm opinions.

What our reporters found was a pleasant surprise. We met entrepreneurs who built castles in the sand, sowed seeds in less-than-fertile ground and transformed this arid patch with better urbanism, good design and even some green shoots of growth in the agriculture industry. We visited inspiring HQs of companies taking recycling seriously and mobility start-ups beginning the journey towards sustainability from the nation’s car-centric cities. As with all countries, there’s still some distance yet to travel but the UAE is ready to be thought of as more than just a place for influencers to brunch.

Whether it’s the tax breaks or the timing, improved regulations or the country’s relative safety in a tumultuous region, there’s something stirring here that we hope the new issue captures. There’s also a shared sense of certainty about the direction of travel and an upwelling of optimism about the future of aviation, artificial intelligence and architecture (and that’s just the As). So, wherever you find yourself in your entrepreneurial journey and however the sands have shifted in your industry, The Entrepreneurs offers a few inspiring stories, lively lessons and some benchmarks to help you on your way.

Josh Fehnert is Monocle’s editor. ‘The Entrepreneurs’ – and the UAE business special within it – is on newsstands now. Subscribe to Monocle today so that you never miss a story.


António Guterres is escorted to the Palestinian enclave at Egypt’s Rafah border this week

Image: Getty Images

Affairs / Israel & the UN

War of words

Israel has called for the resignation of UN secretary-general António Guterres over his remarks against the country’s counteroffensive in Gaza. Guterres suggested that the blockade in Gaza amounted to the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people”. As a response, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said that the country would deny visas to UN officials.

“Guterres is right in saying that things don’t happen in a vacuum but nothing can justify Hamas’s atrocities,” Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow at Chatham House, tells The Monocle Minute. “Where has the UN been during all these years that the conflict has been boiling over? Was it not the UN’s responsibility to put more effort into bringing about fair peace and prevent the situation that we are witnessing today?”

Not-so-fast fashion: with the luxury industry slowing down, Hermès is outpacing its rivals

Image: Getty Images

Fashion / Global

Status grow

Luxury groups reported their financial revenues for the third quarter of 2023 this week. They were a mixed bag of results, reflecting the softening demand across the sector. Kering Group, which manages the development of houses such as Gucci and Bottega Veneta, saw revenues fall by 13 per cent as a result of mounting geopolitical risks and internal decisions to take a step back from wholesale.

The Hermès Group, however, reported a positive sales increase of 16 per cent and the Zegna Group, which recently made a series of smart investments in New York-based labels Thom Browne and Tom Ford, had a 20.8 per cent uptick in its revenues. It’s a telling sign that despite macroeconomic challenges, opportunities still abound, especially for brands that are committed to investing in high-end manufacturing and products that withstand the test of time. It’s why Hermès is emerging as a market leader, thanks to a focus on its design icons, retail network and a fast-growing beauty line.

Image: Getty Images

Transport / Seoul

Green card

Accessible public transportation is a crucial marker of a good city and Seoul’s metropolitan government has been setting the tone for other South Korean provinces. In September the city announced the arrival of a new multi-use public transportation pass, which will grant full access to its network of subways, bus lines, bike-share system and future boat services. Priced at 65,000 won (€46), the “Climate Card” is meant to be a sustainable solution to combat the rising cost of living and carbon emissions.

The announcement has pushed other local authorities to introduce plans for new transit discount systems. The latest plan, introduced by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government, will offer a 20 per cent refund of total transportation expenses for those who use public transit more than 21 times a month, as well as higher refunds for young people and lower-income groups. The environmental effects of these initiatives remain to be seen but South Korea’s commitment to promoting public infrastructure is a definite step in the right direction.

For more transport and urbanism insights and ideas from our global network of reporters, pick up a copy of the November issue of Monocle, which is out now.

Beyond the Headlines

Q&A / Vicki Lee Wallgren

Cold feat

Vicki Lee Wallgren is the director of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Arctic Programme and was one of the attendees at this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly, which took place last Thursday to Saturday in Reykjavík. Here, she talks about climate risks in the Arctic and what her organisation is doing to protect the planet.

The Arctic has become a poster region for environmental safeguards. Do you find that the governments of this part of the world are more receptive to those concerns than others?
If we compare the Arctic climate with extreme weather events happening in more populated parts of the world, then the effects on people in those places are far greater. The effects that these events have on nature, however, are much more severe in the Arctic. Governments are aware of these changes and care about their citizens, though the number of people living in these regions is a rather small proportion of their entire population. Sometimes you get the feeling that the Arctic is like their backyard – they don’t think about it as much.

Are you concerned that governments might use climate change to their advantage – for example, to open up new shipping routes – rather than try to offset its adverse effects?
On bad days, I would say yes. I also like to think that governments understand that development opportunities need to be balanced – they need to be done within the limits of what nature can tolerate. The risk is that politicians with big pockets might choose to ignore this.

Tell us more about the WWF Arcnet map.
Arcnet is an initiative that we started a number of years ago to map out a network of priority areas that governments and communities need to conserve throughout the Arctic Ocean. Different countries have different jurisdictions about what needs to be done and what needs to be protected. We, therefore, felt the need to create an open, transparent database with all the gathered science in one place to provide a blueprint of areas for conservation. It’s a live database so it continues to evolve as new research comes in.

For our full interview with Vicki Lee Wallgren, tune in to Wednesday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Shannon Tofts

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Design

Frances Priest and ‘Small Spaces in the City’

We visit Small Spaces in the City at Roca London Gallery, an exhibition that looks at the challenges of tiny homes across the globe. We also tour the studio of Edinburgh-based ceramicist Frances Priest and talk architecture with Jonathan Tuckey Design.


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