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DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Wednesday, with Dubai leading gains boosted by its top lender Emirates NBD, while Saudi bucked the trend to close lower.

Dubai’s main share index advanced 1.4%, with Emirates NBD jumping 4.4% and sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank up 0.8%.

Emirates NBD recorded a more 20% increase in the number and value of fund transfers via its DirectRemit platform in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Property stocks also drove gains, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties ending 1% higher.

In Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.3%, with Aldar Properties surging 8.1% in its biggest intraday gain since October.

On Wednesday, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council approved a framework between the Abu Dhabi Government and Aldar Properties for development of capital projects in the emirate.

The framework includes Aldar taking on the management of 30 billion dirhams ($8.17 billion) worth of major projects.

The index’s gains, however, were limited by losses at telecoms firm Etisalat, which closed 3.2% lower.

Etisalat had posted its best day in nearly six years on Tuesday as the company called a board meeting for Wednesday to discuss increasing the foreign ownership limit in the firm.

Qatar’s main index gained 0.3%, led by a 3.3% jump in market heavyweight Industries Qatar.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.3%, hit by a 1.4% fall Saudi Telecom Company and a 0.3% drop in Al Rajhi Bank.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index tacked on 0.9%, with most of the stocks on the index in positive territory, including Commercial International Bank which advanced 1.1%.

Meanwhile, Egypt and Qatar have agreed to resume diplomatic relations, the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The move follows an agreement between Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt earlier this month to end their boycott of Qatar dating from 2017 over allegations it supported terrorism, a charge that Doha denies.

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