Saudi Arabian shares were little changed in morning trade on Thursday as investors kept to the sidelines after the state news agency said the kingdom had reported its first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Qatari stocks, meanwhile, were supported by gains in the banking sector.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index edged down 0.1% and was on track for its biggest weekly decline in three.

Al Rajhi Bank and Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group declined 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively.

Losses were offset by an about 2% rise in Saudi Arabian Mining.

This week's losses mainly include a 4.5% drop on Sunday triggered by the panic over the Omicron variant that was first detected in South Africa. 

In Qatar, the index was up 0.1% as Qatar Islamic Bank rose 0.8% and the Gulf's largest lender, Qatar National Bank, gained 0.6%.

Markets in the United Arab Emirates were closed for a public holiday.

(Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath) ((;))