Stock markets in the energy-rich Gulf states nosedived on Tuesday as oil prices slumped and global markets were dragged down by a gloomy outlook for crude.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery dropped below the $50 a barrel mark for the first time in more than five and a half years while Brent crude was hovering around $52 a barrel.
Since June last year, oil has lost around 55 percent of its value on a production glut, weak demand and a strong dollar.
Stock markets tumbled in the United States, Asia and Europe on a grim economic outlook and the prospect of a fresh stimulus for the eurozone that risks losing Greece as a member.
The six Gulf states pump over 17 million barrels per day and oil income makes up around 90 percent of their revenues.
All seven Gulf bourses have fallen since the start of the year as investor confidence is dented by the slide in oil prices.
The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) Index dived 5.7 percent at the start of trading before closing the day 3.2 percent lower on 3,450.00 points.
The DFM Index, which ended 2014 up 12 percent, has shed 8.6 percent this year, the biggest loser among Gulf exchanges.
Neighbouring Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange dropped 2.66 percent to 4,311.89 points. It has lost 4.8 percent since the start of the year.
The Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index, the Gulf’s largest market, dropped more than 4.0 percent at opening but recovered to close down just 0.6 percent on 8,057.43 points. So far, the TASI has lost 3.3 percent in 2015.
The rebound came after a speech by Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, delivered on behalf of ailing King Abdullah, in which he spoke about the oil market and the government development plan.
Qatar Exchange, the second largest bourse in the region, dropped 1.5 percent to finish the day on 11,811.75 points. It was the top gainer last year rising 18.4 percent but is down 3.8 percent this year.
The Kuwait Stock Exchange dipped 1.5 percent to close trading on 6,397.87 points. It has lost 2.1 percent this year.
In Oman, the Muscat Securities Market also closed down 1.3 percent on 6,229.87 points, 1.8 percent lower than last year’s close.
The small Bahrain bourse ended the day up 0.3 percent but was flat on the year.