The knock-on effects from the global economic downturn led Standard & Poor’s, the global bond rating firm, to cut by one notch yesterday the credit ratings of Emaar Properties, the biggest developer in the country, and six other government-related companies, including the port operator Dubai World.

S&P emphasised the downgrade did not reflect heightened concern that the companies would be unable to repay about US$17bn (Dh62.44bn) in debts due this year and next. Those concerns have 'eased' in recent weeks as Dubai launched a $20bn bond programme, the first $10bn of which has been purchased by the Central Bank.

The National