Telecoms giant Etisalat was a rare gainer at the open as local markets reversed a buying rally amid uncertainty on political upheaval in the Mena region.
Etisalat, the UAE's largest company by market capitalisation majority owned by the government, added 0.9 per cent to Dh10.9 in Abu Dhabi.
The company was reported as saying it will invest $1.91 billion on expanding its fibre optic network over the next three years.
But the Dubai Financial Market retreated 1.3 per cent to 1,371.10 points and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange lost 0.15 per cent to 2,554.39 points.
Other markets elsewhere opened higher as Bahrain's BB All Share Index crept up 0.25 per cent to 1,399.24 points and Qatar's market gained nearly 2 per cent to 7,638.52. Tunisia's stock market is also due to open today as it was suspended last week for the second time.
Oman's measure lost 0.26 per cent to 6,386.81 points.
Local markets rallied yesterday as they tracked a rebound in Saudi Arabia's Tadawul and snapped losses that wiped more than $140 billion off stock markets in the last 5 weeks, according to the Arab Monetary Fund.
But buying was short-term and and based on a market bounce rather than a full recovery, traders said.
"The solution for the market rests with the government," said Ameed Kanaan, the general manager of Al Jazira Financial Services.
"They haven't intervened at all and rather than just watching from afar, it's important they put some money into the market."
He said the governments in Qatar and Saudi Arabia had already helped prop up the respective stock markets.
Crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange topped $106 a barrel, its highest price in 2 and half years as social unrest in Libya escalated.