Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Dubai shares fall on fears over the emirate's debt load

Cirque du Soleil acrobat
Dubai World may need to sell assets including Cirque du Soleil

Dubai's stock market fell by 6% on Monday on new worries about the size of the emirate's debt burden.

It came as Dubai's finance chief said the government would not sell any assets to help the emirate's investment vehicle, Dubai World, meet its debts.

Abdulrahman al-Saleh said any assets sold would have to be the property-to-ports company's own.

Dubai shares have had a torrid time since Dubai World said 10 days ago it wanted to stall payments to creditors.

The emirate's flag bearer in global investments
Has a central role in the direction of Dubai's economy
Assets include DP World, which caused a storm when trying to take over six US ports
Property arm Nakheel built The Palm Islands and The World developments

They finished Monday trading at their lowest level since 22 July.

Real estate and banking shares were particularly hard hit, with investors still concerned about the financial sector's exposure to Dubai World's debt.

Dubai World has some valuable assets, notably its ports business, which stretches to every continent in the world, including London's Tilbury Docks and France's Le Havre.

Other items in its wide-ranging investment portfolio include the luxury retailer Barney's of New York, a list of high-end US hotels, and the Canadian acrobatic circus franchise, Cirque du Soleil.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Mr Al-Saleh said: "Like any company that has commitments, part of getting liquidity is selling some assets. Of course local or foreign assets."

Investors' demands

One of Dubai World's first major repayments to bondholders in its property firm Nakheel is due next week.

The BBC's Middle East Business reporter Malcolm Borthwick said although the company had asked for a six-month delay, sources had told him that bondholders wanted to be paid off in full and on time.

A group representing 25% of bondholders were writing to Dubai World to that effect, he added.

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