Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Thursday aided by its banks, even as Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) gave up most of its early gains spurred by news of Aramco's purchase of a large stake in the petrochemicals group.

Abu Dhabi edged down as some stocks traded ex-dividend.

Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.3 percent with Al Rajhi Bank adding 1 percent and National Commercial Bank 1180.SE rising 2 percent.

Heavyweight SABIC 2010.SE lost 0.3 percent after gaining as much as 2.7 percent earlier in the session. The world's largest oil producer Saudi Aramco agreed to buy a 70 percent stake in the firm from the Public Investment Firm (PIF) for $69.1 billion. 

The blockbuster deal is likely to be a "long-term game changer" for SABIC, but has limited upside in the near term because of the muted outlook from lower petrochemical prices, Arqaam Capital said.

Saudi banks and telecoms were the best performing sectors in the fourth-quarter of 2018, but results were below expectations due to petrochemical firms missing earnings estimates by 41 percent and consumer names reporting 62 percent below forecasts, SICO research said in a note.

The Abu Dhabi index .ADI dipped 0.2 percent, led by a 5.7 percent drop in Aldar Properties  and a 0.8 percent slide in Emirates Telecommunications Group as they traded ex-dividend.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank also shed 1.5 percent after trading ex-dividend.

The Egyptian blue-chip index gained 0.8 percent, led by a 1.8 percent increase in Egypt's largest lender Commercial International Bank and a 2.2 percent rise in Eastern Company.

EFG Hermes closed 1.7 percent higher after its unit divested a 49 percent stake in wind energy projects across four European countries. 

Dubai's index increased 0.7 percent with Dubai Islamic Bank, the United Arab Emirates' largest sharia-compliant lender, gaining 2.5 percent and the country's largest lender Emirates NBD adding 0.5 percent.

Network International Holdings said that global payments giant Mastercard MA.N will make a $300 million investment in its planned initial public offering.

Emirates NBD owns a 51 percent stake in the company, which is the largest payments processor in the Middle East and Africa.

The Qatar index gained 0.4 percent with market heavyweight Industries Qatar increasing 1.4 percent and Qatar Gas Transport rising 4 percent. The latter said it has established a joint venture with Maran Ventures in which it will hold a 60 percent stake.

Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) rose 3.2 percent, reaching its highest since November 2015. On Monday, the lender's shareholders approved an increase in its foreign ownership limit to 49 percent from 25 percent.

($1 = 3.7502 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Alexandra Hudson) ((; +918067497129;))