Monday, March 20, 2006

Dubai Stocks (Not) In the News

I believe it was Tuesday, 14 May, when, after a decline of more than 40%, Dubai stocks fell by another 12%, for a total of around 50%. On Wednesday, 15 May, another small decline. On Thursday, a small advance, on light volume. The small advance made headlines on page 1 of the local newspapers on Friday, which is like Sunday in the West (or Saturday in a country which must be referred to as 'Occupied Territory' here). The Friday paper is the largest edition, and the one with the largest readership.

Newspapers here have two sections. Section 1 is general news, Section 2 is Business and Sports.
The small advance was covered on page 1 of Section 1 and again on page 1 of Section 2, with the announcement that the government was intervening to stop the decline. Since markets are closed on Friday, the Saturday newspapers had nothing about the Dubai market.

Saturday, apparently in response to the Friday stories, stocks made an advance of around 10%, which made headlines on page 1 of both sections of the Sunday newspapers.

Sunday, I'm sorry to report, Dubai stocks showed a small loss of about 3%, which appeared on page 3 of section 2 in small print of Monday's newspapers.

Today, Dubai stocks are down again, but only about 0.72%. Still, there seems to be little evidence that the government's jawboning is working, and less evidence that the government is using its cash to prop up the market. I don't expect to see much of a story in tomorrow's newspaper.

If it seems like I'm spending all day every day just looking at the market, that's mainly because it was the main item in the news a few days ago, and now I find it interesting to see how the local newspapers cover (or, more to the point, don't cover) the Dubai stock market. For which I actually have to check the market.


Unlike China, the local newspapers cover (reasonably well) news from outside the UAE (in China, the basic attitude is, why should anyone care what happens outside China). There's a page devoted to UK news, one devoted to US news, one devoted to Phillipine news, one devoted to Pakistani news, and three to five devoted to Indian news. [Given that more than 50% of the English-speaking population is from India, this is not too surprising.] What is surprising is that, one day, for reasons which escape me, the local newspaper devoted an entire page just to Australia. The letters to the editor were filled with angry voices that such a tiny minority as visitors and residents from Aus. (mainly to be found in the local watering holes) should have an entire page. Suggestions of what should be covered instead of Aus. on that page varied. Even more surprising was that the newspaper ignored the letters and, a few weeks later, devoted another entire page just to Aus.

Who knows what they'll cover next? It might be almost anything except bad news about the Dubai stock market.


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