Most stock markets in the Gulf fell in early trade on Wednesday, amid fears that a slowdown in global growth would hit fuel demand, although the Qatari index bucked the trend to trade higher.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.3%, hit by a 0.6% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 0.5% decrease in oil behemoth Saudi Aramco.

Crude prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, have soared in 2022 to their highest since 2008, climbing above $139 a barrel in March after the United States and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Prices have since eased to below $100 a barrel as soaring inflation and higher interest rates raise fears of a recession that would erode demand.

Separately, Saudi Arabia has set up an agency to promote investment in the country, a key goal of an ambitious economic reform agenda, the investment minister and state media said on Twitter, citing a cabinet decision.

Dubai's main share index fell 0.5%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties losing 1.5%, while share-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank retreated 0.7%.

In Abu Dhabi, the index lost 0.5%, on course to snap three sessions of gains, weighed down by a 1.3% fall in the country's biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

The Qatari benchmark, however, edged up 0.2%, helped by a 1% rise in petrochemical maker Industries Qatar.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)