Dubai First deal is a win-win for both sides



Back then, there was no shortage of personal credit in the UAE market, with banks and credit-card companies falling over themselves to offer products to consumers intoxicated by the boom. There was always going to be tough competition for Dubai First.

As it turned out, the boom was nearing its end, with the credit crunch of 2008 turning into the credit crisis of 2009. Dubai First's launch projections were turned on their heads, and it became a matter of survival. To have achieved and maintained a 4.5 per cent share of the UAE credit market in such circumstances is no mean achievement.

Having stuck with it so long in the face of adversity, the decision to sell the business is a brave one.

Dubai Group, the arm of the Dubai Holding conglomerate that owns Dubai First and several other underperforming financial assets, will be glad of the opportunity to chip away at the US$6 billion debt mountain it is restructuring with creditors.

The $163 million or so Dubai First will knock off the total debt bill is not much in relative terms, but every little bit helps in these circumstances. Creditors to Dubai Group and other parts of Dubai Inc will be especially pleased to see the emirate willing to consider asset disposals when the price is right.

The sale is another positive sign for the restructuring of Dubai Group, which has dragged on for nearly three years but must surely be agreed imminently.

For First Gulf Bank, which bought Dubai First, the deal represents an opportunity to continue its impressive post-crisis growth.

For a good price, it gets a bigger footprint in the consumer credit market, growing once more. The challenge for the new management is to prove the 2007 vision was sound after all.

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Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
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A second stash was said to have been held in Accra, Ghana, inside boxes at the local offices of an international human rights organisation based in France.

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Group B: Australia, England, Nigeria, West Indies

Group C: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Scotland, Zimbabwe

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Wednesday, January 22, v Afghanistan

Saturday, January 25, v South Africa

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Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

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Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

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Key figures in the life of the fort

Sheikh Dhiyab bin Isa (ruled 1761-1793) Built Qasr Al Hosn as a watchtower to guard over the only freshwater well on Abu Dhabi island.

Sheikh Shakhbut bin Dhiyab (ruled 1793-1816) Expanded the tower into a small fort and transferred his ruling place of residence from Liwa Oasis to the fort on the island.

Sheikh Tahnoon bin Shakhbut (ruled 1818-1833) Expanded Qasr Al Hosn further as Abu Dhabi grew from a small village of palm huts to a town of more than 5,000 inhabitants.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Shakhbut (ruled 1833-1845) Repaired and fortified the fort.

Sheikh Saeed bin Tahnoon (ruled 1845-1855) Turned Qasr Al Hosn into a strong two-storied structure.

Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa (ruled 1855-1909) Expanded Qasr Al Hosn further to reflect the emirate's increasing prominence.

Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan (ruled 1928-1966) Renovated and enlarged Qasr Al Hosn, adding a decorative arch and two new villas.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan (ruled 1966-2004) Moved the royal residence to Al Manhal palace and kept his diwan at Qasr Al Hosn.

Sources: Jayanti Maitra, www.adach.ae

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