The earnings of GCC real estate companies could shrink by 20% in 2009, Kuwaiti investment bank Markaz said on Thursday, as the squeeze continues from the global crisis.

The overall market value of property firms in the Gulf contracted 44% in the first quarter of 2009 year-on-year, with earnings also down 42% in 2008 compared to the year before, the bank said in a research note.

Dubai real estate firms were the biggest losers in the first quarter of 2009, shrinking 80% compared to the same period in 2008, with the value of companies in Abu Dhabi suffering a 72% fall.