Concern about the pace of global economic growth is a bigger factor than geopolitical tensions
Most Gulf stock markets were soft in early trade on Tuesday as global bourses remained subdued and some local retail investors continued to cash out.
Dubai's index was down 0.2 percent after an hour of trade, after a 1.6 percent decline on Monday. Air Arabia fell 2.2 percent, on concern that the carrier's business could suffer as Saudi Arabia cut flights and commercial links with Iran.
Concern about the pace of global economic growth is a bigger factor than geopolitical tensions for the markets. Dubai blue chip Emaar Properties fell 0.7 percent, heading for its fifth straight session of declines.
"Cash is king in a time of uncertainty and so fund managers may be sitting on ample liquidity until markets stabilise," said Muhammed Shabbir, head of equity portfolios at Dubai-based Rasmala Investment Bank.
Abu Dhabi's index was almost flat, though some illiquid stocks fell sharply; Abu Dhabi National Takaful , an Islamic insurer, tumbled 9.9 percent.
In Qatar, Doha's main index slipped 0.6 percent. "Qatar stocks rebounded in mid-December, and if weakness in global markets continues to dampen investor sentiment, then we could be testing December lows again," said a Doha-based trader.
Vodafone Qatar, the most heavily traded stock, fell 0.8 percent.