The UAE’s first real estate investment fund Emirates Reit is securing a 21% increase in rental income during the first quarter of 2017 from one year ago to a total USD12.6 mn (AED 46.28 mn), helped by demand for space at the Index Tower and two of its school assets, Gulf News reports.

Total occupancy across the real estate investment trust’s portfolio was 81% at the end of the three months and the weighted average of unexpired lease term was up to eight years from 6.4 years in the first quarter of 2016. However, net profit was USD 9.1 mn, down from USD14.3 mn a year ago.

“The major improvement we achieved in funds from operations shows that we are on track to achieve our goal of paying out a higher dividend to the owners of the REIT,” says Sylvain Vieujot, CEO of Equitativa Dubai, the Reit manager.

The fund was able to convert most of its additional rental income to FFO (funds from operations), resulting in a 90% increase in FFO, or cash profit, to USD 4.2 mn for the quarter.

The total portfolio value at the end of the first quarter was USD 763.5 mn, a year-on-year gain of 10%, while net asset value increased to USD 1.64 a share.