DUBAI // Dubai shares rose to a three week-high in the first trading session of the year, as sentiment received a boost from the opening of the world's tallest tower today. Emaar Properties, the developer of the Burj Dubai, gained 7.8 per cent leading both the volume and value of trade. Arabtec Holding, the emirate's largest builder that also helped to build the tower, gained 6.3 per cent.
"With the opening of the Burj, Emaar will have a new recurring revenue line this year, which will improve the strength of its books," said Ayman el Saheb, the head of operations at Darahem Financial Brokerage in Dubai. "The opening itself is a confidence-booster." Emaar shares gained more than 60 per cent last year despite tumbling property prices in the emirate which have fallen by as much as half from their 2008 peak. In that year, the company's stock lost almost 85 per cent. The DFM General Index declined 72 per cent in the same year, according to Zawya.com data.
But the property company's stock has proved more resilient to the recent upheaval in the markets following the disclosure from Dubai World in November that it was seeking to restructure US$26 billion (Dh95bn) in debt owed to more than 90 lenders. Other property developers also advanced yesterday with Dubai-based Deyaar gaining 6.9 per cent and Union Properties rising 2.9 per cent. "We expect to see the same trading pattern with Emaar leading the gains," said Mr el Saheb. "There could be little profit taking by retail investors, but most won't offload before the Burj opening. There is talk in the market of some surprise announcement at the opening which has hiked the buying interest in Emaar."
Abu Dhabi stocks rose 1.1 per cent on slim volumes, helped by gains from RAK Properties, Aldar Properties and Etisalat, the UAE's largest telecoms company rose 2.3 per cent, the most in two weeks, after the National reported plans by the company to launch a service that will allow Indian expatriate living in the UAE to send cash home using their mobile phones. Elsewhere in the region, Qatar's measure advanced 0.7 per cent, while stocks in Muscat rose 1.6 per cent. Saudi Arabia's Tadawul general index closed trade marginally higher. Both Kuwait and Bahrain stock markets are closed on for the new year holiday.