Shares in Saudi Arabia shrugged off last week’s oil price declines to close in positive territory, with other regional bourses posting mixed performances.

Brent crude futures fell to $45.58 per barrel on Friday, their lowest level in more than two months, as US crude inventories rose and disagreements emerged between Iran and Saudi Arabia, jeopardising a production deal at this month’s Opec meeting in Vienna.

The Tadawul closed up 0.7 per cent, thanks to gains by Al Rajhi Bank and Jabal Omar Development.

In the UAE, the Dubai Fin­ancial Market General Index closed 0.6 per cent lower at 3,277.96, owing to a sharp fall by Emaar Properties.

The developer’s shares, the heaviest weighted stock on the Dubai bourse, ended 1.6 per cent lower at Dh6.66, its lowest level in two weeks.

Tabreed shed 2.7 per cent to Dh1.74, their largest one-day fall in over four months, after reports that Abu Dhabi government investment vehicle Mubadala may be considering selling part or all of its shareholding in the company.

Mubadala owns 13.39 per cent of Tabreed directly and also holds a 19.88 per cent stake through an affiliated company.

Shares in Abu Dhabi fell by nearly 1 per cent in early trading before recovering to end up 0.2 per cent at 4,291.97, on the back of late gains by Etisalat.

The telco’s shares ended up 1.6 per cent at Dh18.80, its best performance in more than three months. UNB and RAK Properties also rose.

FGB and Aldar Properties weighed on the index, closing 0.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent lower respectively.

Egyptian shares led gains across the wider Middle East and closed up 6.1 per cent, following the central bank’s landmark decision last week to float the Egyptian pound.

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Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority brings emirate's highlights to London travel show

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) will this week highlight the emirate’s tourist attractions at the World Travel Market (WTM) exhibition in London, following the launch of its “Extraordinary Stories” global destination advertising campaign last week.

TCA Abu Dhabi will be joined by representatives from leading hotels, resorts, attractions and tour operators in Abu Dhabi, along with representatives from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Etihad Airways.

More than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals are expected to attend WTM, which opens tomorrow and concludes on Wednesday.

“Last year, the UK was the highest contributor of hotel guests into the emirate from the European market, and the third-highest globally,” said TCA Abu Dhabi’s director general, Saif Saeed Ghobash.

“In 2015 our British visitors’ generated more than 950,000 guest nights, which we will strive to improve upon as we progress to becoming a year-round destination. For the past three years the UK has recorded a double-digit growth percentage.”

UK visitor numbers for the year so far are already 3 per cent higher than the 231,337 visitors last year, Mr Ghobash said.

TCA Abu Dhabi’s attendance at WTM comes a week after the authority rolled out its Extraordinary Stories promotional campaign worldwide, highlighting the emirate’s cultural, sporting and natural attractions, targeting core markets including India, China, the UK, Germany and the United States.

Abu Dhabi received 3.2 million visitors during the first nine months this year, up 9 per cent from the same period last year. The average length of stay decreased by 6 per cent during the period, despite hotel room rates falling by 10 per cent.

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AW Rostamani chairman dies in Dubai hospital at age 83

Abdul Wahid Al Rostamani, one of the UAE’s most influential businessmen, has died at the age of 83.

Mr Al Rostamani, the chairman of business conglomerate AW Rostamani, based in Dubai, passed away “suddenly and unexpectedly” Thursday morning at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital, according to a statement.

He was to be buried Thursday evening at Al Quoz cemetery in Dubai, in accordance with Islamic custom.

A statement from the company said: “he was a professional who aligned with the vision of his nation and sought to contribute towards making the story of the UAE a successful one.”

Starting out in his early twenties with a small book store in Dubai, Mr Al Rostamani gradually expanded his business into one of the UAE’s largest and best-known business groups, with interests in automotive, real estate, construction, lifestyle, travel and logistics sectors.

The company employes some 4,000 professionals.

The group is perhaps best known as the owner of Arabian Automobiles, the sole distributor for Nissan, Infiniti and Renault vehicles in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

“It is with great sadness that we announce today the passing of a father and leader Abdul ­Wahid Rostamani.

“He was incredibly proud of AW Rostamani Group and all of its employees, and we will all miss him greatly,” said AW Rosta­mani Automotive chief executive Michel Ayat.

“His drive to excellence, determination, can-do spirit and commitment to everyone in this organisation and it will inspire and stay with us always.

“On behalf of our board of directors, executive management team and employees, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”

AW Rostamani offices and showrooms were closed yesterday as a mark of respect, and will reopen on Sunday.

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Arabian Gulf shares ended lower on Wednesday in line with global equity indexes, as new polls suggested a closer than expected result in next week’s US presidential elections.

Shares in Asia fell following a sell-off of US stocks on Tuesday, the Nikkei closing 1.7 per cent lower and the Hang Seng off 1.4 per cent. The Euro Stoxx 50 was down around 0.7 per cent late today afternoon.

Oil prices fell on rising US inventories and export boosts by Libya and Nigeria. Brent crude futures dropped to their lowest level in a month, trading down 1.4 per cent at US$47.44 per barrel in the afternoon.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index ended a quiet day 0.9 per cent lower at 3,291.52.

Emaar Properties closed 1.6 per cent lower at Dh6.75, while DIB fell 1.35 per cent to Dh5.12.

Shares in Amanat closed 1.15 per cent lower at 86 fils, after the investment firm announced it had appointed Dawod Al Ghoul as its new chief financial officer, following the resignation of Kanhaiya Rati.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index had its worst day in more than two weeks, closing down 1 per cent at 4,264.50.

Etisalat and FGB led the sell-off among big-name stocks, closing 1.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent lower, with Aldar Properties and NBAD also falling.

Shares in Agthia ended the day unchanged at Dh6 after the food producer’s profit growth slowed to 1.1 per cent during the third quarter.

The Qatar Exchange led losses across the Arabian Gulf, closing 1.26 per cent lower. In Saudi Arabia, the Tadawul lost 0.1 per cent.

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Agthia profit growth slows on subsidy changes

Agthia reported slower profit growth for the third quarter because of changes in flour and animal feed subsidies and a slowdown in UAE consumer categories.

The food and beverage company, whose brands include Al Ain water and Grand Mills flour, announced profits of Dh54.8 million for the three months to the end of September, a 1.1 per cent increase on the same period last year, coming in just below analyst estimates.

Revenue rose 2.7 per cent rise to Dh477.8m boosted by the performance of its bottled water division, which has seen a 27 per cent increase in revenues over the first nine months of the year.

Agthia said that it intends to “land an acquisition in the water category in the GCC” before the end of the year, giving no further details.

The company warned in August that changes to subsidies on flour and animal feed would impact its net profit for this year to the tune of up to Dh20m.

Subsidies on flour were removed for Agthia’s retail, trading and catering business lines in September, with subsidies on bakeries set to be removed in August next year.

Animal feed subsidies were removed for municipality and distributor channels in July, but remain in place for commercial farms.

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Du profit falls on higher royalty payments

Du reported a 6.7 per cent fall in third quarter profit on Tuesday on higher government royalty payments, even as revenues rose.

The Dubai-based telecommunications provider posted a net income after royalty of Dh457.2 million for the three months to the end of September, compared with Dh489.8m for the same period last year.

Profits before royalty grew 2.4 per cent to Dh995.1m for the period, thanks to a 2.9 per cent rise in revenues to Dh3.14 billion.

Profit and revenues both came in ahead of the average estimate from analyst.

Du’s mobile revenues grew 2.7 per cent to Dh2.22bn over the period, even as mobile data revenue slipped 0.6 per cent to Dh737.3m.

Fixed line revenues increased 3.7 per cent to Dh681.1m.

“As demand for digital services and data continues to grow significantly, the challenge for the entire telecommunications industry is finding ways to better monetise this structural shift,” said du’s chief executive Osman Sultan in a statement.

“Nevertheless, as we move towards becoming a truly integrated digital enabler, we remain focused on delivering more innovative data solutions for our customers and continue to see data and digital services, as well as managed services, as key areas of growth for our business.”

Du announced its results before the market opened. The stock is up 19.2 per cent for the year to date, versus a gain of 5.7 per cent for the Dubai Financial Market General Index.

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Digital services now key for du

Du yesterday reiterated its plans to further expand its managed digital services business, as third-quarter earnings came under pressure from slowing growth for its traditional connectivity services business and increasing roy­alty payments to the federal government.

The telecoms operator, based in Dubai, said its third quarter profit fell 6.7 per cent to Dh457.2 million compared with the same period last year, attributable to an 11.7 per cent rise in royalty payments.

Profits before royalty grew 2.4 per cent to Dh995.1m for the period, thanks to a 2.9 per cent rise in revenues to Dh3.14 billion.

“Our net profit is growing almost by 4 per net year-on-year, it’s a decent result these days,” said the du chief executive Osman Sultan.

“I don’t see our growth of net profit before royalty offsetting this growth of 11.6 per cent.”

Telecoms operators across the world have experienced a slowdown in revenues and profit­ability growth in the face of disruptive OTT service providers such as Skype and WhatsApp, which have eaten into traditional revenue streams.

Faced with such declines, operators are increasingly branching out into the provision of connectivity solutions for enterprise customers, such as cloud computing, Internet of Things, mobile applications and big data services.

“We remain focused on delivering more innovative data solutions for our customers and continue to see data and digital services, as well as managed services, as key areas of growth for our business,” said Mr Sultan in a statement yesterday.

His remarks came following the launch of a digital services division by Etisalat last month, designed to tap a market it believes may be worth up to ­Dh50bn in the UAE during the next five to seven years.

Last month Etisalat announced a 1 per cent decline in Ebitda for its UAE operations in the third quarter, which it attributed to higher interconnection costs, staff costs and other general and administrative expenses.

“Both Etisalat and du are putting increasing efforts into developing new digital services in sectors such as smart cities, the smart home, e-commerce, the Internet of Things, and enterprise ICT,” said Matthew Reed, a Dubai-based analyst with consultancy Ovum.

“Many of these efforts are quite experimental at this stage, but the pressure will grow to identify those that have the best prospects and develop them further.”

Du’s mobile revenues grew 2.7 per cent to Dh2.22bn over the period, even as mobile data revenue slipped 0.6 per cent to Dh737.3m.

Fixed-line revenues increased 3.7 per cent to Dh681.1 mn.

Du shares have risen 19.2 per cent for the year to date, versus a gain of 5.7 per cent for the Dubai Financial Market General Index.

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Digital services now key for du

Du yesterday reiterated its plans to further expand its managed digital services business, as third-quarter earnings came under pressure from slowing growth for its traditional connectivity services business and increasing roy­alty payments to the federal government.

The telecoms operator, based in Dubai, said its third quarter profit fell 6.7 per cent to Dh457.2 million compared with the same period last year, attributable to an 11.7 per cent rise in royalty payments.

Profits before royalty grew 2.4 per cent to Dh995.1m for the period, thanks to a 2.9 per cent rise in revenues to Dh3.14 billion.

“Our net profit is growing almost by 4 per net year-on-year, it’s a decent result these days,” said the du chief executive Osman Sultan.

“I don’t see our growth of net profit before royalty offsetting this growth of 11.6 per cent.”

Telecoms operators across the world have experienced a slowdown in revenues and profit­ability growth in the face of disruptive OTT service providers such as Skype and WhatsApp, which have eaten into traditional revenue streams.

Faced with such declines, operators are increasingly branching out into the provision of connectivity solutions for enterprise customers, such as cloud computing, Internet of Things, mobile applications and big data services.

“We remain focused on delivering more innovative data solutions for our customers and continue to see data and digital services, as well as managed services, as key areas of growth for our business,” said Mr Sultan in a statement yesterday.

His remarks came following the launch of a digital services division by Etisalat last month, designed to tap a market it believes may be worth up to ­Dh50bn in the UAE during the next five to seven years.

Last month Etisalat announced a 1 per cent decline in Ebitda for its UAE operations in the third quarter, which it attributed to higher interconnection costs, staff costs and other general and administrative expenses.

“Both Etisalat and du are putting increasing efforts into developing new digital services in sectors such as smart cities, the smart home, e-commerce, the Internet of Things, and enterprise ICT,” said Matthew Reed, a Dubai-based analyst with consultancy Ovum.

“Many of these efforts are quite experimental at this stage, but the pressure will grow to identify those that have the best prospects and develop them further.”

Du’s mobile revenues grew 2.7 per cent to Dh2.22bn over the period, even as mobile data revenue slipped 0.6 per cent to Dh737.3m.

Fixed-line revenues increased 3.7 per cent to Dh681.1 mn.

Du shares have risen 19.2 per cent for the year to date, versus a gain of 5.7 per cent for the Dubai Financial Market General Index.

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Shares were higher across the Arabian Gulf on Monday, in spite of slipping oil prices and mixed third-quarter earnings.

Brent crude futures trended lower, as Iraq continued to resist calls to cut its production levels. Oil was trading at US$49.20 per barrel on Monday afternoon.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index drifted lower in morning trading, before recovering to close up 0.3 per cent at 3,332.41. Emaar Properties and Dubai Islamic Bank led big-name gainers, closing up 0.8 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively.

Aramex shares closed 0.1 per cent lower at Dh3.54, after the logistics company announced a 3 per cent dip in third-quarter profits on slowing economic conditions in the Gulf states.

Shares in DFM closed up 0.8 per cent at Dh1.15, after the index owner announced a 22 per cent drop in third-quarter profit on Sunday.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index closed up 0.3 per cent at 4,300.18.

FGB, NBAD and Aldar Properties all closed higher, offsetting a fall by Etisalat, the index’s most heavily weighted stock. Shares in Eshraq Properties closed up 3.9 per cent at 79 fils after the developer announced the resignation of managing director Sulaiman Al Dhalaan.

In Saudi Arabia, the Tadawul closed 0.5 per cent higher, after the country’s Capital Market Authority announced regulations for the trading of real estate investment trusts (Reits). The Tadawul’s ninth straight day of gains brought it to a close above 6,000, at 6,012.22.

In Doha, the Qatar Exchange closed 0.3 per cent higher, following a 2.2 per cent drop on Sunday. Ooredoo was among the main gainers, rising 3 per cent, even as the telco announced a 51 per cent fall in third-quarter profits.

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Review: Sony's Xperia XZ smartphone is a winner in the selfie stakes

Sony’s Xperia XZ is the Japanese firm’s best flagship smartphone in several years, with a fresh premium design and improved camera, even if its display continues to lag behind its competitors.

With the XZ, released in the UAE last month, Sony has fin­ally ditched the tired design of its Z range. In its place comes a far smoother metal and glass casing with perfectly rounded edges and joins, that looks particularly impressive in the new “forest” blue shade.

Like last year’s Z5, the XZ sports a 23MP rear camera, which now uses “triple image sensor” technology to create that extra-special image. That’s fine in theory, but in reality images are OK but not spectacular, especially compared with the likes of the LG G5 and the Galaxy S7 range.

What has improved, however, is the XZ’s front-facing camera, which has been upgraded to 13MP, and, more importantly, a wider-angled lens for an all-round better selfie experience.

Many of the XZ’s other features are holdovers from the Z5, for better or for worse. On the plus side there’s IP68 dust and ­water resistance, as well as a nippy fingerprint reader conveniently placed on the right-hand edge. Less happily, the XZ’s display is virtually identical to the Z5’s, which in turn was little different from the Z3’s display before it.

The same old 5.2 Full HD display is fine, with nice colours and smooth action scenes in the trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. However, it simply can’t match the Amoled display of the S7 Edge and the Super LCD5 of the HTC 10 for sheer wow factor.

It seems, however, that Sony is less concerned with competing directly with the S7s of this world, focusing instead on a slightly cheaper market segment. The X5 retails for Dh2,299, Dh400 below the Z5’s starting original price, and well below that of the iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7.

The Xperia XZ’s average display prevents it from being an out and out winner, but its long overdue design overhaul and brilliant selfie camera make it Sony’s most compelling high-end phone in ages.

Q&A:

Yay, water resistance. So I can take it scuba diving with me?

Not so fast. Sony advises you not to expose the handset to seawater, saltwater, chlorinated water or drinks. Still, it’ll survive the odd spill better than most.

How’s the battery life?

Sony also claims the (non-removable) 2900mAh battery will last twice as long as its competitors, thanks to intelligent charging based on the owner’s indivi­dual usage patterns. In reality, battery life is solid but not particularly spectacular.

What else should I know about the XZ then?

It ships with Android Marshmallow, with an upgrade to Nougat expected before long. There’s 32GB of memory, expandable to 256GB through one of the two Sim slots. The 3GB of Ram and Snapdragon 820 processor make the user experience nice and nippy.

A 5.2-inch display is a little large for me. Is there anything smaller available?

Sony unveiled the X compact at the same time as the XZ, with a 4.6-inch display. Sadly you’ll have to go to Saudi Arabia to buy it, where it’s available for 1,699 riyals (Dh1,663). If you don’t fancy the trip, the Z5 Compact is still available in the UAE.

I’ve never associated forests with being particularly blue. Are there any other colours available?

It’s a very nice shade of dark blue, whatever it’s called. It’s also available in “mineral” black, platinum and “deep” pink.

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