Dubai's bellwether Emaar Properties ended at a three-month high, surging amid sharp gains on UAE markets as some traders bet the oil exporter will be upgraded to emerging market status by influential index compiler MSCI.
Shares in Emaar rose 5.5 percent to AED2.86, their highest close since Aug 29.
"Emaar is on top of the list for joining an MSCI upgrade," said Talal Touqan, head of equity research at Al Ramz Securities. "Breaking 2.75 was a major step towards exiting the downward spiral."
MSCI will announce on Dec 14 whether it will upgrade UAE and Qatar to emerging market status from frontier markets, having delayed its decision from June.
Dubai's benchmark gained 1.8 percent to close at 1,404 points, its highest finish since Oct 31.
On Wednesday, the UAE said it would set up a AED10bn ($2.7bn) fund to help pay low-income citizens' debts and announced plans to raise wages of some state employees, boosting sentiment on local equity markets.
"The [AED]10bn fund is rather like a windfall for banks that have strong retail exposure," says Touqan.
Abu Dhabi's index also rose, up 1.2 percent to 2,473 points. Banks supported, with First Gulf Bank up 5.3 percent, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank each rising 2.8 percent.
Oman's shares ended at a two-week high, with most Gulf Arab markets making gains as upbeat world equities bolster sentiment.
Muscat's index rose 0.6 percent to 5,509 points, its highest close since Nov 17.
Telecom stocks were the main support, with Nawras rising 1.8 percent and Oman Telecommunications gaining 0.7 percent.
"Overall global sentiment has improved, along with the institutions looking (for) bottom fishing and good dividend stories in Oman," said Kanaga Sundar, Gulf Baader Capital Markets head of research. "The GCC has emerged as net buyers for the day. Foreigners [from outside the Gulf] have been on both the buy and sell sides," he added.
Elsewhere, Kuwait's benchmark slipped 0.1 percent to close at 5,829 points, halting a four-day advance.
Logistics firm Agility fell 1.3 percent after saying on Sunday it has bid about KD25.6m ($92.44m) to acquire a strategic stake in Kuwait Health Assurance Co (KHAC).
Saudi Arabia's shares slipped as investors cashed in gains from Saturday's petrochemical-led rally.
The kingdom's index eased 0.04 percent to 6,167 points, extending year-to-date losses to 6.8 percent.
Losses in banks and petrochemicals cancelled out gains in insurance index which climbed 0.5 percent.
Samba Financial Group slipped 0.4 percent, Savola Group shed 0.8 percent and National Industrialisation (Tasnee) falls 0.5 percent to SR38.7 riyals.
On Nov 25, Credit Suisse raised its price target for Tasnee to SAR59 from SAR55, citing expectations of higher product prices.
"We increase our 2012 and 2013 earnings per share forecast by 7.2 percent and 8.5 percent respectively," it said in a note.
The Saudi bourse's chief executive said on Sunday the government has yet to decide on when it will open the market to direct foreign investment.
Qatar's bluechips extended gains as investors bet on a positive decision from influential index compiler MSCI later in December for an upgrade to emerging market status.
"The main catalyst for Qatar is the MSCI upgrade- that's what everyone is waiting for," said Marwan Shurrab, vice-president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments.
"Expectations from the market is positive, a good announcement could come... that could be a positive catalyst regionally," he added.
Heavyweight Qatar National Bank gained 0.5 percent, Industries Qatar rose 0.2 percent and Masraf Al Rayan added 0.8 percent.
Doha's benchmark was up 0.4 percent to 8,701 points, its highest level since Nov 21.