Notes from the field

Our work takes us all over the world. Here we share some of our more personal perspectives on some of the destinations we have visited, filed on location.


Prague: a straightforward place to do business

A booming economy, relatively low corruption and widely spoken English make the Czech Republic an easy place to do business, but mixed messages from the government and growing Euroscepticism could discourage some investors. more >

Mongolia: Still Waiting

Under the surface, Mongolia has it all. Coal, copper, gold, iron, oil, uranium – a veritable periodic table of opportunity. When China’s voracious appetite for resources drove up the prices of minerals, Mongolia seemed an investor’s paradise: stable, democratic, but underdeveloped. But its potential still remains largely unfulfilled. more >

Crunch in Chisinau

Tents dot the square in front of the Moldovan National Assembly in the centre of Chisinau. A speaker on a makeshift podium reads a poem. People queue up in front of a poster to throw darts at the faces of the country’s oligarchs and politicians. Police officers in protective uniforms encircle the crowd. more >

In Helsinki, it’s who you know

Helsinki feels more connected to central Europe than to its Scandinavian neighbours. Nestled between Norway, Sweden and Russia, Finland is the only country in the region to have joined the Euro. more >

The quiet life in Erbil won’t last

The capital of Iraqi Kurdistan feels empty compared with 2013, but things are picking up as the Kurds strive for financial independence. more >

Morocco: The Gateway to West Africa?

Compared to its neighbours, in recent years Morocco has made significant economic strides. The country has registered economic growth every year since King Mohammed VI succeeded his father Hassan V, an achievement that many Moroccans are quick to attribute to the sovereign. Casablanca is accessible and bustling with business travellers, as befitting the commercial capital of the most prosperous country in North Africa. more >

Turbulence in Tunisia

It seemed like a good time to come to Tunisia. I had flown into Tunis last Wednesday and spent two hectic but fruitful days in the city. In the mornings I would easily hop between meetings as traffic was manageable and taxis plentiful. In the afternoons, when most offices had closed for the day due to the holy month of Ramadan, I worked in the calm of my hotel. The people were welcoming, the weather was pleasant, and the homemade Iftar dinner I was lucky enough to have been invited to was delicious. more >

Exploring Armenia’s Unique Identity

What does Yerevan have in common with Jaipur and Toulouse? All three are known under the sobriquet of pink city. As ever many with such nicknames, on a recent trip to Yerevan, it was difficult to find a local aware of it. “Really?” asked one, “I think it’s more orange”. Whatever the colour, Yerevan has a unique architectural style, the result of explosive population growth in the 20th century. From the end of the Russian Empire to the twilight of the Soviet Union, the city developed from a multi-ethnic provincial governorate of around 30,000 inhabitants to a largely ethnically Armenian capital of 1 million people. more >

Urumqi: Go West and Prosper

On landing at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in just another large Chinese city. The short drive from the airport would not encourage you to suppose otherwise, until a closer look at the road signs shows place names written in three scripts: Mandarin, Pinyin (China’s phonetic romanisation) and across the top, Uighur. more >

Cairo: Back in Business?

When Alaco last visited Cairo in 2013, the city was only just emerging from the nightly curfew imposed by the military following its removal of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi that summer. Cairo’s notorious traffic was light; tourists and business visitors were few; the hotels that skirt the banks of the Nile were near empty. Now, with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s intervention legitimised by his election as President, visitors are gradually returning to the city Egyptians call “Umm El Dunyia” or the “Mother of the World”. more >

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