UAE remains most appealing country for Gulf property investors

Dubai meanwhile was the most preferred city to invest in real estate. Above, workers at a construction site in Dubai. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2017
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UAE remains most appealing country for Gulf property investors

DUBAI: The UAE retained its top spot as the most appealing country for Gulf residents to invest in property, while Dubai was named the most preferred city, according to new research.
About 45 percent of GCC home buyers and real estate investors, up from 42 percent in 2016, chose the UAE when asked which country they were comfortable in investing, according to the Real Estate Barometer study, made in partnership between YouGov and Cityscape Global.
Almost two-thirds also chose the UAE when asked which Middle East country the would chose to invest in.
Collectively, 69 percent of respondents chose Dubai as the ‘go to’ city for real estate investment, with 66 percent expecting the impact of Expo 2020 to increase property buyer interest in the Emirates.
The average budget for the GCC property investors was pegged at $717,000 (SR2.68 million), which was much higher than the average global budget of $561,000. The most sought-residential properties meanwhile were two- to three-bedroom apartments.
“We have seen a change of investor mind-set when it comes to the size of property sought after, shifting from one-bedroom and studio apartments in 2016 to a majority (54 percent) seeking two-to-three bedroom apartments shown by this year’s results,” Tom Rhodes, Exhibition Director, Cityscape Global, said in a statement.
“This could signal a vote of confidence from investors and homebuyers as reports point to a rejuvenation in the real estate sector.”
Kailash Nagdev, Managing Director for YouGov in the Middle East region said: “The 2017 study indicates a minor decline in sales and rental property prices in the UAE but overall real estate investment sentiment for the UAE looks positive.”
“The annual Real Estate Barometer is designed to track Middle East property market sentiment to help the industry expand with its future investors in mind.”
Cityscape Global, the region’s biggest property exhibition, opens this week in Dubai and for the first time has allowed developers undertake onsite sales to interested buyers.


Twitter suspended 58 million accounts in 2017 fourth quarter

Updated 18 July 2018
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Twitter suspended 58 million accounts in 2017 fourth quarter

  • Twitter executives say efforts to clean up the platform are a priority
  • Company struggling with user growth compared to rivals like Instagram and Facebook

NEW YORK: Twitter suspended at least 58 million user accounts in the final three months of 2017, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The figure highlights the company’s newly aggressive stance against malicious or suspicious accounts in the wake of Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Last week, Twitter confirmed a Washington Post report that it had suspended 70 million accounts in May and June. The cavalcade of suspensions has raised questions as to whether the crackdown could affect Twitter’s user growth and whether the company should have warned investors earlier. The company has been struggling with user growth compared to rivals like Instagram and Facebook.
The number of suspended accounts originated with Twitter’s “firehose,” a data stream it makes available to academics, companies and others willing to pay for it.
The new figure sheds light on Twitter’s attempt to improve “information quality” on its service, its term for countering fake accounts, bots, disinformation and other malicious occurrences. Such activity was rampant on Twitter and other social-media networks during the 2016 campaign, much of it originating with the Internet Research Agency, a since-shuttered Russian “troll farm” implicated in election-disruption efforts by the US special counsel and congressional investigations.
Suspensions surged over the fourth quarter. Twitter suspended roughly 15 million accounts last October. That number jumped by two-thirds to more than 25 million in December.
Twitter declined to comment on the data. But its executives have said that efforts to clean up the platform are a priority, while acknowledging that its crackdown has affected and may continue to affect user numbers.
Twitter said in April it had 336 million monthly active users, which it defines as accounts that have logged in at least once during the previous 30 days. The suspended accounts do not appear to have made a large dent in this number, which was up 3 percent from a year earlier. Twitter maintains that most of the suspended accounts had been dormant for at least a month, and thus weren’t included in its active user numbers.
Michael Pachter, a stock analyst with Wedbush Securities, said he thinks the purge late last year may have been part of an initial sweep of inactive accounts that had little effect on activity or advertising revenue. But he said he expected advertising revenue to fall 1 to 2 percent due to the more recent purge last week, when Twitter said it was removing frozen accounts from follower counts.
He expects the company to be upfront about the impact when it announces quarterly earnings on July 27, and said the cleanup is good for users and advertisers. “They’re certainly doing the right thing,” he said.
Scott Kessler, an analyst with CFRA who has a “sell” rating on Twitter stock, said multiple reports and vague clarifications by executives are creating uncertainty about what Twitter’s numbers really mean.
The purge activity “adds a level of uncertainty,” he said. “As an analyst, I want a more genuine view of the user base.”
Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said in February that some of the company’s “information quality efforts” that include removing accounts could affect monthly user figures. Segal offered no specifics.
Six months later, in late June, Twitter disclosed that its systems found nearly 10 million “potentially spammy or automated accounts per week” in the month of May, and 6.4 million per week in December 2017. That’s up from 3.2 million per week in September. The company didn’t say how many of these identified accounts were actually suspended.
Following the Post report, which caused Twitter’s stock to drop sharply, Segal took to Twitter to reassure investors that this number didn’t count in the company’s user metrics. “If we removed 70M accounts from our reported metrics, you would hear directly from us,” he tweeted last Monday .
Shares recovered somewhat after that tweet. The stock has largely been on an upswing lately, and more than doubled its value in the past year.
Twitter is taking other steps besides account deletions to combat misuse of its service, working to rein in hate and abuse even as it tries to stay true to its roots as a bastion of free expression. Last fall, it vowed to crack down on hate speech and sexual harassment and CEO Jack Dorsey echoed the concerns of critics who said the company hasn’t done enough to curb such abuse.