Dubai and Qatar's markets made modest gains in thin trade while Abu Dhabi's index ended little changed as markets resumed trade after a holiday marking Eid al-Adha.
Dubai climbed 0.4 percent to close at 1,390 points, trimming 2011 losses to 14.7 percent.
Emaar Properties was the main support, up 2.3 percent. Telecom operator Du rose 1 percent and Drake and Scull climbed 2.1 percent.
"If all [Gulf] markets opened together, it would make sense for most investors to be back," said Marwan Shurrab, vice-president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments.
"You wouldn't expect two days of trading after Eid to be active."
Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties gained 1.9 percent after its quarterly earnings beat estimates. It posted a rise in profits as it booked gains from a January land sale to the government.
Elsewhere, banks lifted Qatar's index by 0.9 percent to close at 8,705 points, up 0.3 percent on the year and the only regional market in the green.
"Outperformers like the banking sector are the main reason why Qatar is more resilient to international markets downside," said Shurrab.
"Banking stocks are correlated to the government activities and spending locally."
Heavyweight Qatar National Bank gained 1.6 percent, Masraf Al Rayan climbed 0.8 percent and Doha Bank rose 1.1 percent.
Bluechips Industries Qatar and Qatar Gas Transport advanced 1.8 and 2 percent respectively.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman's markets will resume trade next week.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.