May 21, 2018 / 7:40 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE's visa move for investors boosts Dubai property stocks

DUBAI, May 21 (Reuters) - Property stocks in Dubai and Abu Dhabi rose in early Monday trading after the United Arab Emirates approved a system to grant residency visas of up to 10 years to investors and specialists.

Emaar Properties rose 4 percent and DAMAC Properties climbed 1.3 percent, lifting the Dubai index by 1.3 percent.

The UAE move “will surely boost the performance of the real estate sector and give comfort to the investors there and specially property owners,” said Marie Salem, director of capital markets at FFA Dubai.

Investors and specialists in scientific, technical, medical and research fields will receive UAE residency visas for up to 10 years, the government said. The families of those categories of foreigners will also receive the same visa validity.

The UAE cabinet also approved steps on Sunday that would allow for 100 percent ownership of UAE-based businesses by foreign investors by the end of this year.

The Dubai real estate sector has been a drag on the market this year, with shares of Emaar down over 15 percent despite Monday’s surge.

Residential property prices in Dubai have registered a 12-month decline of 2 percent on average, while rents have fallen by up to 5 percent in some areas, according to real estate consultancy Cavendish Maxwell.

In Abu Dhabi, Aldar Properties rose 1.4 percent, outperforming the Abu Dhabi index which was up 0.4 percent.

The Saudi index was flat in early trading with some of the consumer stocks trading lower. Food company Almarai was down 0.5 percent.

In Doha, a 1 percent gain in Qatar National Bank and a 0.6 percent rise in Industries Qatar, the two leading blue-chip stocks, provided support to the market,

The Qatari index was up 0.2 percent. (Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Mark Potter)

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