Playing host to international gatherings is a mammoth endeavour for cities but, if done well, it can set them apart from other urban hubs. Take Lisbon, which has this week welcomed more than 70,000 people to Web Summit, one of the world’s largest technology conferences. These figures put hotel occupancy in the Portuguese capital at about 85 per cent, with representatives from 153 countries getting a chance to see the city’s hospitality at its best.
Among them is Pedro Lopes, Cape Verde’s secretary of state for digital economy, who heads up the largest delegation of any African nation present at the summit. For him, the event is an opportunity to engage with international partners. “You don’t have to be a big country to succeed in the digital economy,” he tells The Monocle Minute. “This is one of its greatest advantages.” The summit is a great opportunity for the lusophone nation to connect with its huge Portuguese diaspora and capitalise on the shared language.
Though discussions about cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and start-ups dominate the agenda, the event also focuses on some of the biggest challenges that cities are facing, such as climate change. “We want every citizen of Berlin to have a vote on whether or not their city should have more trees as this has a direct impact on their quality of life,” says Christian Kroll, founder of Ecosia, a search engine that donates 80 per cent of its profits to planting trees across the globe. Since the company was founded in 2009, it has contributed to planting 180 million trees worldwide. From my time at the conference, it is evident clear that players across all industries are actively engaged in creating better cities for the future. Perhaps technology can be the unifying factor that brings partners together and helps to turn their vision into reality.
Argentina heads to the polls this Sunday for a second-round run-off vote in its presidential election. With no clear winner after the first round on 22 October, the polarised South American nation will have a choice between far-right populist Javier Milei – who has been seen at some events wielding a chainsaw to show how he will attack the system – and leftist economy minister Sergio Massa.
Despite the widely held view that Massa won a recently televised debate against his rival, Milei heads into the vote with a slight lead in the polls thanks to the support of centre-right coalition Together for Change, which finished third in the first round of the election. As for the markets? They favour Massa, even though he has presided over one of Argentina’s worst-ever economic slumps, with inflation at more than 140 per cent. For many in the country, he is the lesser of two evils.
As the Dubai Airshow comes to an end this week, all eyes are on the rebirth of Air India and other carriers in the country. After Tata Group took control of the struggling airline in 2022, the company ordered 470 new aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing. And the Indian flag carrier’s purchase of its first Airbus A350-900, which is expected to be added to the fleet in December, will put pressure on Gulf carriers, which currently shuttle huge numbers of passengers to and from the country – and across the rest of the world. So Emirates’ blockbuster order of 95 aircraft from Boeing this week comes as no surprise, with airlines rushing to shore up a large number of delivery slots as soon as possible. This is all good news for passengers but the heated battle between carriers in the Gulf and India is just getting started.
The latest edition of Art Jakarta opens in the Indonesian capital today and runs until Sunday. The annual event, first held in 2009, is Indonesia’s flagship art fair and focuses on contemporary Southeast Asian artists. This year it is taking place in its largest venue yet, the Jakarta International Expo complex. Out of the 68 galleries participating, more than 50 per cent are from Indonesia, with the rest hailing from countries such as Singapore, Thailand and Australia.
Highlights include a large-scale installation by Indonesian artist Syagini Ratna Wulan titled Memory Mirror Palace, which is adapted from an older piece showcased at the Indonesia Pavilion of the 2019 Venice Biennale. In addition to the main exhibitions, there are artist dialogues, free guided tours and a playground for children. Asia has been host to many international art fairs in recent years but most have focused on creatives from China, Japan and South Korea. Art Jakarta, however, is shining a light on the region’s emerging artists.
“Boys”, captured by London-based photojournalist Sophie Wedgwood, is part of a photography series called Havana, which explores the rhythms of daily life in Cuba. This week it is part of a print sale called Pictures for Palestine, which includes work from more than 150 other prominent photographers such as Zed Nelson, Rena Effendi and Thomas Ruff. All proceeds will go to Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Being a young nation presents its own set of challenges but it also provides ample opportunity to innovate when thinking about the future of our cities. We meet the CEO of URB, who’s dreaming up planet-friendly, utopian cityscapes, and tour Expo City Dubai to explore the site’s sustainable ambitions.