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Saudi Arabia led Gulf stock markets lower on Tuesday as rising interest rates and lower economic growth rattled investors.

Investors remained cautious, expecting an increased impact from tightening U.S. monetary policy while the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to fuel concerns, said Farah Mourad, senior market analyst at XTB MENA.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index closed 2.2% lower after its biggest intraday fall since late November, with the country’s largest Islamic lender Al Rajhi Bank tumbling 4.1%.

Oil prices, a key driver of Gulf financial markets, fell in volatile trade as the market balanced impending European Union sanctions on Russian oil with demand concerns related to coronavirus lockdowns in China, a strong dollar and growing recession risks.

Dubai’s main share index eased 0.7%, dragged down by a 3.1% fall in top lender Emirates NBD and a 1% decline in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties.

In Abu Dhabi, the index fell 0.9%, while the Qatari benchmark eased 0.5%.

The United Arab Emirates will introduce a form of unemployment insurance, the cabinet said on Monday, the latest reform by the Gulf country as it strives to attract talent and investment amid increasing regional economic competition.

Insured workers would receive money for a limited period of time if made unemployed, UAE Prime Minister and Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also the ruler of trade hub Dubai, said on Twitter, citing a cabinet decision.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index closed 0.9% lower, with most of its stocks in negative territory including Abu Qir Fertilizers, which was down 3.8%.

The Egyptian market is also feeling the impact of strong inflation in particular as agricultural products like wheat remain difficult to import due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, according to Mourad.

SAUDI ARABIA down 2.2% to 13,509

ABU DHABI 0.9% to 9,915

DUBAI dropped 0.7% to 3,598

QATAR declined 0.5% to 13,450

EGYPT fell 0.9% to 10,811

BAHRAIN 2% to 1,988

OMAN fell 0.5% to 4,155

KUWAIT eased 1.1% to 9,233

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