Prince Albert sends message of solidarity to Pakistan after “monsoon on steroids”

Prince Albert has extended his condolences to the president of Pakistan and its population after weeks of torrential rain has led to catastrophic flooding. 

This year’s record monsoon is comparable to the devastating floods of 2010 – the deadliest in Pakistan’s history – which left more than 2,000 people dead.

Officials estimate that more than 33 million Pakistanis – one in seven people – have been affected by the flooding.

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the situation as “a monsoon on steroids” and launched a $160 million appeal.

In a statement released by the Palace and addressed to Dr. Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Prince Albert says, “It is with great emotion and sadness that I learned the tragedy the Pakistan population is facing with the terrible monsoon flooding submerging a third of the country. Let me assure you of my deep sympathy.

“In these tragic circumstances, allow me, along with my family and the population of Monaco, to convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and our support and compassion to the injured and the displaced people.

“May I also commend the massive evacuation efforts that are ongoing across your country. Let me assure you, Mr. President, of our profound solidarity in this difficult ordeal.”

South Asia is considered a “climate crisis hotspot” where people are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts.

“Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country,” said Guterres.



Photo credit: Indianapolis Prize





Louboutin ends on a high, 2023 summer exhibit revealed

Christian Louboutin’s ‘The Exhibition(ist) Chapter II’ brought in more than 37,000 visitors in its 51-day stint, says the Grimaldi Forum, and next year’s summer exhibit is set to feature one of the art world’s biggest names. 

Christian Louboutin and his uber-feminine iconic, red-soled shoes have been sought-after classics since day one.

His relationship with the Principality goes back to the start, when Paris-born Louboutin opened his first boutique on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1991, and one of his first customers was Princess Caroline. Since then, it has been one strength to the next, giving the designer three decades of luxury footwear that discerning clients from all over the world adore.

The Grimaldi Forum capitalised on Louboutin’s innate creativity and fashioned a 2,000 m² space filled with previously unseen works tied to the designer’s Monegasque inspirations as well as new collaborations, including a unique project being developed with British artist Allen Jones. Not just shoes, which of course would be displayed with pride of place, but also art in other forms as well.

Photo by Eric Zaragoza, Grimaldi Forum

At the heart of the exhibition, the ‘Musée Imaginaire’ room brought together items from Louboutin’s personal collection with historic and artistic works borrowed from public and private collections, including from local museums. It looked at various themes in the designer’s work such as his love of dance and the legacy of the Ballets Russes, his passion for African art and Asia, the pop influence of Warhol, the photographic genius of Helmut Newton, and his fascination with oceanography.

The exhibition presented exclusive collaborations by Louboutin such as the stained glass created by the Maison du Vitrail, a silver Sevillian palanquin, and a cabaret sculpted in Bhutan. Visitors also discovered the designer’s various projects with artists such as the photography of director David Lynch, the video work of Lisa Reihana, the leather sculptures of English designers Whitaker Malem, the choreography of Blanca Li, and the work of artist Imran Qureshi, as well as an immersive space dedicated to sculptor and painter Allen Jones created especially with him for this exhibition.

Said Sylvie Biancheri, General Director of the Grimaldi Forum of the summer success, “We can be delighted with such a result, it is 10% more than last year with Giacometti, despite an extremely short exhibition this year compared to usual, due to a calendar of tourism events in business picking up very early in September.”

Photo by Eric Zaragoza, Grimaldi Forum

The numbers were impressive, but they mean nothing without public support. This is where the exhibition took off, with the digital visitor’s book citing people who raved about the event, coupled with great praise garnered from the national and international press and social media outlets.

On average, the exhibition welcomed more than 700 visitors per day, with peak days seeing 1,800. French and Monegasques were the main attendees, with others coming from Italy and England, and more notably as far away as the United States.

“This exhibition was full of elegance and originality,” said Francesco Grosoli, CEO of CMB Monaco, official and longtime partner of the Grimaldi Forum. “Our customers and prospects, who are great fans of creation and innovation, have widely acclaimed it. Its quality reflected our ambition in terms of sponsorship, that of contributing ever more and better to the cultural influence of the Principality.”

Photo by Jean-Charles Vinaj, Grimaldi Forum

Inaugurated on 7th July by Prince Albert II, the main event took place from 9th July to 28th August. It was curated by Olivier Gabet, Director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and was produced by the Grimaldi Forum Monaco in collaboration with Christian Louboutin.

Cultural enthusiasts can already look forward to next summer when the Forum brings ‘Monet: Capturing the Sun’, presenting a hundred paintings by the emblematic impressionist artist, thanks to a substantial loan from the Marmottan Monet Museum and through the support of international public and private collections.






Photo above source: Grimaldi Forum Monaco




A snapshot of Monaco’s retail trade industry in 2021

Online retail sales stores accounted for almost 11% of all retail businesses in Monaco in 2021, while clothing still reigns supreme. Here are some of the other standout figures in the latest Retail Trade report from IMSEE.

According to IMSEE’s new Retail Trade Observatory, the retail sector, particularly hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, has also been one of the sectors to make a sound recovery. The number of new establishments in 2021 went from 50 to 55, a 10% increase in a year. At the same time, the number of failed or closed businesses fell by 9.5 %.

Additionally, the number of active establishments rose from 827 in 2020 to 844 in 2021, a modest 2.1% rise, putting it at fifth place in the Principality for number of active establishments. Sales grew as well, by a huge 25.8% in 2021, and exceeded their 2019 level, up by 14.2 %. The number of employees also increased from 2,816 in 2020 to 2,960 in 2021.

Last year, retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles, counted 734 active businesses, equalling 87% of the total. The remaining 13%, or 110 businesses, were dedicated to motor vehicles and motorbikes. Clothing reigned supreme with 18.8% of total market share with 159 shops. After that, a relatively new entry, retail sales made via internet or by mail order, had 90 establishments, equalling 10.7% of the market.

Nearly half of all retail establishments in 2021 were less than a decade old, with one-third of those being in operation less than three years. Those in business from 10 to 19 years made up nearly 22%.

LLC’s, or limited liability companies, were the vast majority when it came to legal form of running the companies, sitting at 44.8% of all registered businesses and nearly 95% of retail trade businesses were operated directly by owners.

Monte-Carlo had the largest number of retail shops, with 381 in that district. The Condamine was second with 170, followed by Fontvieille with 82. The other neighbourhoods spilt the remainder fairly evenly.

What was actually sold was also rather district dependant, with clothing dominating in Monte-Carlo, Condamine and Larvotto, while internet and mail order sales were big in La Rousse, Moneghetti and Jardin Exotique. Cars and vehicles were most sold in Fontvieille, and specialised stores located in Monaco-Ville.

Retail trade revenue has remained stable for a decade, but especially so between 2014 and 2021 when it has sat between 10% and 12%. Revenue growth was up 10.8% in 2018 and 2019, but dropped by 9.2% in 2020, the largest decrease in over a decade and due mostly to the forced closure of non-essential shops during Covid. By 2021, that decrease was blotted out by a massive 25.8% increase with turnover approaching €2 billion, the highest growth in the past 10 years.

The number of people employed in this sector also hit some decade highs, with 2,960 employees, though the number of hours worked, 5.2 million, was lower than pre-pandemic levels. These employees were fairly evenly split between genders, with 1,537 being women and 1,423 being men, and the majority of those being aged between 30 and 50.

Over two-thirds of retail workers – 70.6% – are French, and 15.3% are Italian. Monegasques represent only 1.5% of retail employees, about 45 people.

According to IMSEE, the general business climate for 2022 has so far been favourable, with indicators showing the strong rebound of 2021 is continuing.



Photo source: SBM Monte-Carlo





Wine production to bounce back despite 2021 winter frost

The production of wine in France is expected to rebound this year in spite of the frost that hit certain wine-growing regions in winter 2021. The good news is hampered slightly amid fears that the current drought will limit output for this year.

It’s almost as if Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god of wine, imposed his will on France’s wine production abilities, giving them the gift of the grape despite some pretty rotten meteorological conditions this past year.

France’s Farm Ministry recently announced that wine production is predicted to rise by 13% to 21%, equalling somewhere between 42.6 million and 45.6 million hectolitres in 2022. A hectolitre is 100 litres, or 133 standard bottles of wine. This positive forecast means the output will be equal to as much as 7% higher than the five-year average, the ministry said.

The frost-hit southwest will see lower production, but incredibly, the rest of the country saw more favourable weather during the growing season allowing for greater output.

“In these conditions, production is trending towards an increase compared with last year in all wine regions, with the exception of Charentes,” it said in a report.

With the good came the bad though and the ministry warns the droughts affecting the country may have adverse effects: “However, soil drought combined with heatwaves could limit this increase if they persist until harvesting.”

France’s agricultural sector, the biggest in the European Union, is being put under severe pressure due to the seemingly endless heat waves, and the drought conditions brought on by them. The drought is already the worst on record, and has forced the government to impose strict water-saving measures, which are contributing to the difficult conditions for farmers.



Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash





Artist Elena Butko shines at Fashion Factor Dubai

Avant-garde artist Elena Butko’s intriguing works made an impressive mark on the red carpet in the VIP section of the 2nd edition of Fashion Factor in Dubai.

Fashion Factor, held at the Grand Hyatt Dubai in June, featured sought-after designers and people from the worlds of film, fashion and media who were all there to choose the best of the best of emerging talent in fashion and modelling. The event was punctuated with live performances, fashion shows and, of course, a gala awards dinner to top it off.

In its first edition, Fashion Factor targeted an untapped market – emerging local and international designer’s – and highlighting their talents. The event aims to provide a prominent fashion show competition for up and comers from around the world.

This year, artist Elena Butko was invited to be part of the event, giving attendees a chance to admire her art in close range. Her striking works, which feature bold splashes of colour in somewhat chaotic form have a raw beauty that appeal to the emotions of those who see them.

Her addition to the Fashion Factor has added to the event’s standing, giving another dimension through her art.

Said the artist of her works, “As an underground contemporary painting artist, I’m always looking for the next opportunity to translate what I experience into art. Since long ago, I’ve led a life fully devoted to the arts. It’s no lie to say I live, breathe and dream of art, although I have my own particular preferences that I keep coming back to. If my style speaks to you, then I am happy.”



 Photo: Elena Butko, Marcopolo Experience, by Fashion Factor 




Diop leaves Monaco to join local rivals Nice

Sofiane Diop has joined OGC Nice from AS Monaco for a reported €20m fee after making over 100 appearances during a four-year spell at the Principality club.

Diop was a mainstay in Niko Kovac’s Monaco side, but he saw his game time significantly reduced when Philippe Clement arrived as manager. In Tuesday’s press conference, the Monaco manager revealed that it was the player’s desire, rather than that of the club, to leave.

“First of all, it wasn’t our idea to let Sofiane leave. It was his choice. He contacted me yesterday and we had a good conversation. He wants the best for Monaco and I want the best for him. He has chosen to leave, to take another path. We have to respect that,” said the Belgian coach.

Diop, who scored 17 times for Monaco in 105 appearances after joining from Rennes wrote a goodbye message to Monaco on his Twitter account: “After four beautiful years, during which I grew as a footballer, but especially as a man, it is time for me to take on another challenge and to say goodbye to you,” Diop began.

He continued, “I want to thank AS Monaco for having given me the opportunity to discover the professional world and for allowing me to progress at the highest level. I also want to thank my family and those close to me for their daily support. Finally, thank you to you, the Monaco fans, for your love and confidence for all those years.”

Diop joins local rivals Nice, for a fee reported to be around €20m, according to Nice-Matin. He could get the chance to face his former side this weekend with Clement’s men making the short trip to the Allianz Riviera on Sunday.

An internal replacement

As things stand, Monaco look unlikely to dip back into the transfer market in order to replace Diop. The club have already signed forwards Breel Embolo and Takumi Minamino this summer, whilst in order to fill the void left by Diop, they are looking to the academy.

Maghnes Akliouche, who broke into the first team last season, and who featured against PSG last weekend, looks set to earn more game time. Speaking on Tuesday, Clement said, “When I see his evolution, Maghnes has shown that he can take the role that Sofiane occupied.”

Musaba departs

Monaco trimmed their squad further ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Another forward, in the shape of Anthony Musaba, has left to join Ligue 2 side FC Metz on a one-year loan deal. The loan includes an option for Metz to purchase the Dutch youth international. Musaba has only made one appearance for Monaco, and since his arrival he has spent loan spells at SC Heerenveen and satellite club Cercle Brugge.



Photo by Monaco Life