Stocks slump on worries

Dubai stocks saw their sharpest drop in six months yesterday, as Abu Dhabi-based property developers slumped by up to seven per cent and foreign investors dumped portfolios across the region. Falling oil prices, rising borrowing costs and fears of a drop in house prices contributed to the sense of gloom in the Emirates. "The real estate still seems to scare people," said Deepak Tolani, an analyst at Al Mal Capital. "But I think it's a temporary thing, I think people will come back and start looking at the low values." The Dubai Financial Market Index fell nearly three per cent, its biggest one-day drop in six months, to close at 5,094.56 points. It has lost 14 per cent of its value since the start of the year. Abu Dhabi's benchmark index fell 2.55 per cent to 4,652.42 points, a level last seen at the end of January. The index is up two per cent this year. Morgan Stanley published a report last week saying that Dubai's booming property market could experience a 10 per cent drop in value by 2010. Abu Dhabi property developers, as well as banks such as First Gulf Bank, which are significantly exposed in that market, saw heavy selling. Dubai Islamic Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi were marked down by 3.64 per cent and 1.97 per cent, respectively. Some analysts believe that fear and caution is spreading to the Gulf in the wake of the financial crisis emanating from the US housing collapse. Oil prices, which form the backbone of the economy but have limited direct impact on most listed company earnings, have fallen nearly 20 per cent in a month. Udo Schaeberle, a director at the Abu Dhabi branch of BHF Bank, a German wealth management company, said the company recently pulled out 20 per cent of its US$650 million (Dh2.3 billion) investments in GCC markets because investors in Europe and elsewhere were jittery about the Gulf. "[Investors] see a correlation between the boom year and oil prices, and if they run through their global portfolio seeing oil prices going down, they go position by position," Mr Schaeberle said. "Plus the sophisticated investor knows that during the summer months usually nothing moves up - if they see opportunities elsewhere they'll go elsewhere and they might be back as soon as the market is back up again, which they believe to be the case in Ramadan, or after Ramadan." Investors in Europe, he said, had been asking about the soundness of construction companies since the Morgan Stanley report, and some had simply pulled out of the sector. Arabtec Holding, the only listed builder in Abu Dhabi, dropped 9.91 per cent to Dh15.45. The company's stock has tripled in the past year and half and its sell-off indicated investors' desire to take profits. Aldar Properties fell by 7.39 per cent to Dh10.65 and Sorouh Real Estate declined 6.42 per cent to Dh7.87. First Gulf Bank fell 8.47 per cent to Dh23.25. In Dubai, Emaar Properties and Emirates NBD led the decline, falling 3.83 per cent and 3.36 per cent, respectively.


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

Day 2, Dubai Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Pakistan’s effort in the field had hints of shambles about it. The wheels were officially off when Wahab Riaz lost his run up and aborted the delivery four times in a row. He re-measured his run, jogged in for two practice goes. Then, when he was finally ready to go, he bailed out again. It was a total cringefest.

Stat of the day – 139.5 Yasir Shah has bowled 139.5 overs in three innings so far in this Test series. Judged by his returns, the workload has not withered him. He has 14 wickets so far, and became history’s first spinner to take five-wickets in an innings in five consecutive Tests. Not bad for someone whose fitness was in question before the series.

The verdict Stranger things have happened, but it is going to take something extraordinary for Pakistan to keep their undefeated record in Test series in the UAE in tact from this position. At least Shan Masood and Sami Aslam have made a positive start to the salvage effort.

Russia's Muslim Heartlands

Dominic Rubin, Oxford


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