Saudi Arabia's stock market on Thursday edged near the highest level since July 2006 touched last week, while the Qatari index was weighed down by banking shares.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index closed 0.3% higher, rising for a tenth consecutive session, helped by a 3.2% gain in Banque Saudi Fransi.

The kingdom retained its top ranking in Chinese oil supplies in 2021, with supplies up 3.1% over 2020, and it increased its share to 17% of total Chinese imports, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing customs data. 

The Qatari index fell 0.8%, hit by a 6.8% slide in Commercial Bank.

The lender reported a sharp rise in annual profit but took a hit on its investments in Turkey which was impacted by the continued volatility in the Turkish market and the depreciation of the Turkish lira.

Among other losers, sharia-compliant lender Masraf Al Rayan retreated 1.6%.

In Abu Dhabi, the index gained 0.8%, led by a 2.9% rise in telecoms firm Etisalat  and a 2.2% increase in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Dubai-based payments processor Network International said on Thursday spending in the United Arab Emirates was now above pre-pandemic levels, supported by the world fair Expo 2020 Dubai. u

Before the pandemic, consultancy EY forecast the Expo would over the course of six months contribute 1.5% to the UAE's gross domestic product.

Dubai's main share index , however, finished flat.

Investors remain concerned about the changing market conditions in the U.S. and as Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread rapidly, said Farah Mourad, senior market analyst of XTB MENA.

Elsewhere, shares of Aramex finished 1.3% higher, after Abu Dhabi government-owned holding company ADQ transferred a 22.32% stake in the firm to Abu Dhabi Ports.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.1%, with its top lender Commercial International Bank rising 1%.

($1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel) ((; +918061822788;))