The number of people working in Dubai’s financial free zone rose 9 per cent to more than 21,600 last year.

The number of entities registered at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) also rose by about 13 per cent to 1,648, DIFC Investments said in a statement.

Occupancy at the business park was 98 per cent in 2016, which has encouraged its owner to add more commercial space including the Gate Avenue and The Exchange.

“Continuous investments such as this will reinforce our strong position in the region and support Dubai’s vision of being a leading global financial centre,” said Essa Kazim, the chairman of DIFC Investments.

Gross operational profit, which is derived mainly from rental income, increased 4 per cent to US$ 149 million in 2016.

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The number of people working in Dubai’s financial free zone rose 9 per cent to more than 21,600 last year.

The number of entities registered at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) also rose by about 13 per cent to 1,648, DIFC Investments said in a statement.

Occupancy at the business park was 98 per cent in 2016 which has encouraged its owner to add more commercial space including the Gate Avenue and The Exchange.

“Continuous investments such as this will reinforce our strong position in the region and support Dubai’s vision of being a leading global financial centre,” said Essa Kazim, the chairman of DIFC Investments.

Gross operational profit, which is derived mainly from rental income, increased 4 per cent to US$ 149 million in 2016.

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Tech stocks have been on a winning streak. The Nasdaq hit new highs last week closing up 0.4 to a record of 6,048.94 on Friday while several of the largest names including Netflix and Microsoft continued their rallies.

And it does not look like its ending any time soon.

Traders celebrated the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the US. The event may cause some concern among investors as the Nasdaq first breached 5,000 in March 2000 and was followed quickly by the bust in tech stocks. It only reached that level again 15 years later in March 2015.

The index is up more than 11 per cent year-to-date, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are up a lttle more than 6 per cent in the same period. But the feeling in the market is that things are different this time around, with a supportive environment for many of the large-cap tech companies.

“If you look across the board, tech fundamentals have been very good in internet, software and semiconductors, so there’s been a good backdrop,” Joshua Spencer, portfolio manager at T Rowe Price, told CNBC last week.

Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook are all Nasdaq components and all stocks have risen sharply since the start of the year. Driving this is the fact that these 800-pound gorillas are becoming major players in the world economy, forging new areas of growth and touching on sectors that they had not been in before.

Microsoft, a company that was struggling just two years ago, has been enjoying a revival thanks to its cloud products, augmented reality (AR) and a new hardware push.

Facebook’s latest developer conference showed its bets on AR and how essentially it wants to be at the centre of what it hopes will be a post-smartphone world. Facebook wants to be the centre of your life, even being able to provide a place to share thoughts directly from your brain.

Take Amazon, an e-commerce juggernaut no doubt but not the biggest player in cloud computing and one that is investing heavily in content to rival media companies, artificial intelligence which could be used across a number of different sectors and even potentially driverless cars.

However, there is a little bit of concern in the market towards some of these behemoths. For example, Raymond James lowered its rating on Amazon’s stock to market perform from outperform last week, saying that it needs to show greater operating profit. But the analysts did not suggest its long-term prospects are broken.

And that is exactly the point with all of these majors. In the short term there may be wobbles in share prices as earnings miss here and there, or investors take profits with these high share prices. But in the long term Apple, Alphabet and their peers are positioned to dominate sectors including vehicles, cloud, mobile, media and anything else they dip their fingers into. It is a position none of them have been in before.

The risk, of course, is if these future bets do not pay off and that is when investors may get flashbacks from the year 2000.

Arjun Kharpal is a technology correspondent for CNBC in London.​

The National and CNBC International are global content sharing partners.

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Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank said that its first-quarter net profit rose 8 per cent, boosted by gains in net interest and Islamic financing income and tight control of expenses.

At the same time, non-interest income also rose and money set aside to cover bad debt dropped amid increasing signs that the UAE economy may be turning the corner after several dismal years.

Net income increased to Dh1.1 billion in the first three months of the year from Dh1.02bn in the same period last year, the bank said. Total net interest and Islamic financing income gained almost 4 per cent to Dh1.63bn in the quarter versus Dh1.57bn in the same period last year. Impairment allowances fell almost 10 per cent to Dh386 million in the first three months of the year from Dh352m in the same period last year.

“The bank had a very good start to the year, reporting strong top and bottom line growth for the first three months of 2017,” said Ala’a Eraiqat, its chief executive.

“Our stringent cost controls to drive efficiency across the Bank resulted in a significant improvement in our cost to income ratio year on year. As a highly disciplined bank, we continue to take measures to address the prevailing economic conditions with rigorous risk management and cost containment.”

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The tropical capital of Malabo, with its wooden colonial buildings, near-unbroken rain and cloud, red-eared monkeys and crocodiles, does not have much in common with Riyadh, Baghdad or Tehran. Yet one thing is enough to admit Equatorial Guinea into an exclusive club – petrol. As Opec and non-Opec states pursue unprecedented cooperation, Equatorial Guinea is next to seek to join the producers’ organisation – but will there be more?

Since Indonesia rejoined briefly and then dropped out, Opec has had 13 members. Angola became the first new member since 1975 when it entered in 2007, Ecuador resumed membership in the same year and Gabon in 2016. Angola extracts about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) while Gabon, Ecuador and Equatorial Guinea are relatively small producers.

So more important for Opec’s clout since last year has been the output cut deal struck with non-Opec states. Opec produces about 32 million bpd currently, while the “Nopec” countries it has aligned with, notably Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Oman, yield about 18 million bpd, of which 11 million bpd alone comes from the big bear, Russia.

Opec’s strength – and weakness – has come from its diversity. Excepting perhaps diamonds, it has been one of the longest-surviving, and surely the most influential, producers’ groups. Although its Middle East members have inevitably dominated, Venezuela, Nigeria and, in earlier years, Indonesia have all had key roles. This has prevented it becoming sucked into the morass of Middle East politics or being seen purely as an Arab pressure group.

But there has always been tension between producers with large, long-lived reserves and relatively small populations – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE – with those seeking to maximise short-term prices, such as Algeria and Nigeria. Saudi Arabia has sought to deter competitors with major undeveloped reserves, such as Venezuela in the 1990s and Iraq today, from making a “dash for growth” at its expense.

The motivation for joining Opec today is very different from what it was in the 1960s – when the goal was to bargain collectively to extract better tax terms and control over pricing from the western oil firms. Production quotas and cuts came along in the 1980s. Now all are concerned by the threat from US shale, which cannot and will not ever align with Opec.

Equatorial Guinea hopes membership will revive interest in its upstream sector, as its main field, Zafiro, is in decline. Higher prices generally will help to revive worldwide exploration, but it is not clear how cutting production will draw investors to Malabo specifically.

Several new oil states are emerging that might also stake a claim: Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Senegal in Africa and Guyana in South America. Sudan and South Sudan, both part of the “Nopec” agreement, have previously talked about becoming formal members of Opec.

From the bigger producers among the “Nopec” states, Mexico did not join in the 1970s, and probably will not join now, because of its closeness to the US and its desire to turn around its declining output. Malaysia is not a net oil exporter any more, while Oman and Bahrain gain more from retaining freedom of action, and are already closely aligned through the GCC.

Russia and its former Soviet colleagues are, for now, happy with their informal alliance. Moscow, feeling itself head of a great power, is not likely to acknowledge parity with Riyadh. It gains more as a mediator, deal-maker and, when it suits Russian interests again, free-rider.

So while Opec may well pick up a few smaller members, it is unlikely to do more than hold the line on its market share as shale expands. To retain its relevance and influence, it will have to continue, deepen and formalise cooperation with a willing “Nopec” coalition. But herding these very different players in the same direction is a new challenge for the venerable organisation.

Robin Mills is CEO of Qamar Energy, and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis.

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I once asked my colleague and friend if there was someone out there who reminded her of herself. “I don’t think so,” she replied. “I like computer programming, drawing and other stuff, but I don’t think there’s anyone exactly like me. They might share similar interests, but they’re not like me.”

She often refers to herself as a computer geek or a neat fanatic, but one word she would absolutely never use is: autistic. My friend is a high-functioning autistic woman, but the challenges of autism are not really her concern. She somehow works around them. And there are some important lessons that we can learn from her when managing our businesses.

Firstly, my friend is extremely focused. She is a successful computer programmer and an accomplished app developer. That is what she focuses on. She knows her strengths and keeps doing what she is good at doing. In business, focus is an extremely important asset. I was in a meeting once where a colleague pointed out the number of entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic about an idea but never follow through. They somehow lose focus or delay plans until another time. My friend, on the other hand, found her calling, stayed focused and expanded her portfolio. And because of this, she earns a substantial income. Plus she never lets people’s remarks about her business or their opinions sway her from her passion.

If I described autism in one word, I would say it is powerful. But perhaps it is also a blessing in disguise. My friend is extremely determined. If I tell her we are going to take a road trip somewhere, or we will work on project X for a client, she will not stop asking about it until we have finished what we set out to do. Something that annoys her the most is an unfinished project or idea. It is often because of her determination and constant reminders about completing a job that we finish before the deadline. She never procrastinates or fails to follow through. She either gets the job done or tells you from the outset that project X is not for her. She does not waste my time and I respect her greatly for that.

If her brain were divided into compartments, I would say that 90 per cent of it was dedicated to her passion and 10 per cent was for everything else. Her mind seems to mainly revolve around her interests. Of course, like everyone else, she worries at times or gets annoyed, especially when things do not go as planned, or if someone has rearranged her workspace, but these occasions are rare. Most of the time she is either developing herself, working on what she is interested in or relaxing doing the things she enjoys the most. Imagine if, as an entrepreneur, you dedicated 90 per cent of your working hours just to your business and the ideas you are enthusiastic about. How much would you accomplish? We often let things get in our way. For instance, a bad email in the morning, or a negative meeting with a client can set our mood askew for the whole day, causing us to lose interest and focus on the schedule until the issue is resolved.

So imagine if you pursued your passion, did not put so much emphasis on other people’s opinions about your work and spent your time developing your plan. Imagine if you just focused on the work that needs to be done and did not waste time on things that did not interest you, instead being determined to go at it until you had achieved your desired results. Rather than just talking about the dreams you would like to achieve, what if you just achieved them? Do this and you will be unstoppable, just like my friend, and you will most likely reach your destination far faster than you had ever anticipated.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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Bank of Sharjah said its first-quarter net profit fell 28 per cent because of a drop in the market value of its investments.

The decline in profitability came even as money set aside to cover back debt shrunk.

Net profit for the first three months of the year slipped to Dh58 million compared to Dh81m in the same period the previous year, the bank said. Net impairment loss on financial assets declined to Dh9m in the quarter from Dh23m a year earlier.

Net interest income declined 7 per cent to Dh117m in the first three months of the year compared to Dh126m in the corresponding period last year. Non-interest income fell 54 per cent to Dh25m versus Dh54m on a year earlier.

Ahmed Al Noman, the bank’s chairman, said that profitability was affected by a Dh21m downturn in the market value of its strategic investments which he said was expected to recover during 2017.

Bank of Sharjah joins a number of other UAE banks in the first quarter that have experienced a drop in impairments, a trend analysts say is sign that lenders may be out of the rough patch they hit after the price of oil crashed in 2014.

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The slick Etihad-only first and business class lounge at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport is handily situated just to the left after immigration and security. The exterior features a bold and exclusive-looking geometric pattern in gold and dark brown, inset with frosted glass doors.

Inside this 7,300-square-foot space, uniformed staff inform me that they’ll be letting me know when to board. The modern design reflects the airline’s most recent cabin interiors, with dark wood contrasted with soothing cream paintwork.

Since I’m flying from the US to Abu Dhabi, I can carry my laptop and camera with me and work without hindrance. This is lucky because the lounge has no desktop computer terminals. I was there at 1pm ahead of a 3.15pm flight, so I headed to the peaceful a la carte dining area to work over a spot of lunch.

The lounge is pleasantly uncrowded and has a striking bar area with dark wood mashrabiya inserts and plenty of natural daylight, with views down through the floor-to-ceiling windows of planes being readied for service. There are some individual leather chairs near the windows and separate eating areas – a buffet dining area, self-service drinks counter, showers and prayer rooms. There is, however, no spa.

There’s a choice of five dishes on the a la carte dining menu, and I try the potato and pea samosa with tamarind chutney and pan-seared salmon with potatoes and green beans. The food arrives swiftly and is beautifully presented. The salmon is especially tasty as it comes with a salted crust. The staff are friendly and hard-working, but my server doesn’t notice that I don’t have cutlery so I get it myself. I also sample the food from the buffet, a choice of salads and hot dishes including Indian specialities. It is almost as good as the a la carte.

Although there are no boarding announcements, the staff tell lounge occupants when it’s time to go to their gate. It offered a nice bit of Abu Dhabi hospitality on American soil and was definitely a cut above.

q&a: premium lounge

Rosemary Behan expands on Etihad’s business class lounge at New York’s JFK Airport:

Where is the JFK lounge and when did it open?

The lounge is situated in Terminal 4 and opened in November 2015. It was the second Etihad-only premium lounge in the US after Washington DC and coincided with the introduction of the Airbus A380 on the route between Abu Dhabi and New York. There are two daily flights between the two cities.

Who exactly can use the lounge?

Etihad Airways guests travelling in The Residence by Etihad, First Apartments or Business studios. Economy travellers can pay US$75 to enter if they are holding Etihad Airways boarding passes for either of the two Abu Dhabi flights.

What do people flying in The Residence receive?

Within the premium lounge they have their own private lounge, like a hotel suite without a bedroom. It features a living area, dining table, showers and prayer room. It is designed for up to four guests.

Where in the world are Etihad’s other premium lounges?

The airline’s other premium lounges around the world are in Abu Dhabi, Washington DC, Los Angeles, London Heathrow, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne and Frankfurt.

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Petrol and diesel prices will rise again starting Monday as the price of crude oil slipped this month by 2.6 per cent.

The UAE Ministry of Energy announced today that consumers will pay Dh2.01 a litre for Super 98, up 3 per cent from April; Special 95 will increase 3.2 per cent to Dh1.90; and E Plus will cost Dh1.83, growing by 3.3 per cent.

Diesel will inch up to Dh1.97 from April’s Dh1.95.

The Ministry of Energy began liberalising fuel prices nearly two years ago using “benchmark prices” that have not been publicly disclosed.

A barrel of Brent crude traded at US$51.73 at the end of last week, an 8.9 per cent drop since the start of the year at $56.82 per barrel.

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