Snapshot of the news
THERE has been good news on various fronts over the past week. Rents in UAE are becoming more affordable, stock markets are showing signs of recovery and the takaful industry is growing.
Here's a snapshot of this week’s headlines....
Rental prices fall
The cost of renting an apartment in the UAE fell 8-10% in the first quarter of this year, according to a report by Clutton, the property consultancy firm. The villa rental market proved slightly more resilient in the more established freehold areas, but is expected to soften during the summer months.
In Abu Dhabi, rental prices slipped 8% for apartments and villas during the first quarter, according to Asteco, the property management company. The increased volume of housing supply, either delivered during the quarter or set for delivery in the coming months, is pushing rents lower.
Takaful to touch $12bn
Global takaful contributions are likely to touch $12 billion in 2011 from $9.15bn in 2010, according to Ernst & Young's World Takaful Report 2011. It showed that takaful (Islamic insurance) contributions grew globally by 31% in 2009 to reach $6.9bn.
The takaful industry is concentrated mainly in the MENA and south-east Asia regions, with Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and the UAE the largest three markets globally.
Saudi launch for Cobone
Online shopping site Cobone.com is to bring bargains to Saudi Arabia. Members are offered a different deal a day on things like hotels, luxury goods, restaurants and spa treatments.
By the power of group purchasing, you can get discounts of 50% to 90%. A certain number of people must sign up to activate each offer.
UAE bourse gains
Dubai's benchmark index climbed to its highest close in seven-and-half weeks on Sunday as investors anticipated strong first quarter results for the UAE banking sector. The Dubai financial market general index rose 0.93% to close at 1,569.80 – its highest close since 16 February.
Banking and construction stocks helped the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange to jump 0.44% to 2,608.50.
Bahrain exchange to launch
The Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX) expects to begin trading on its conventional platform in the next two weeks after delaying a scheduled launch because of political unrest. BFX, owned by India's Financial Technologies, was launched in February as a multi-asset exchange offering trading in both conventional and Islamic products in equities, derivatives, commodities and currencies.
Financial education campaign
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launched its financial education campaign with the release of a 'Smartmoney' booklet. Available in both Arabic and English, it highlights tips on managing money better, and information on understanding risk and creating personal wealth.
Banks need to improve services
Business consultancy firm Collinson Latitude has urged Middle East financial organisations to think more innovatively to retain customers who are being presented with a growing choice of financial services products.
Meanwhile, an Ernst & Young survey found that 25% of GCC retail banking customers plan to switch banks by the end of 2011. Vote with your feet, cashy says!
Pic credit: graur razvan ionut/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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