U.S. Markets open in 6 hrs 44 mins

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi near-4 year high days after entering FTSE Russell index

* Saudi index hits highest level since Aug 2015 * Al Ahsa Development rises on merger update * Barwa Real Estate slides on going ex-dividend * Egypt's SODIC gains after government contract By Shakeel Ahmad March 21 (Reuters) - All of Saudi Arabia's banks rose on Thursday, lifting its stock exchange to a near-four year high following its inclusion in the FTSE Russell's emerging-market index this week.

Saudi's Tadawul index will have a weighting of 2.9 percent in the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index and this year will join the MSCI emerging market benchmark. The market is positioned for passive fund inflows of around $20 billion.

Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.8 percent with Al Rajhi Bank and Riyad Bank gaining 2.2 percent each.

Al Ahsa Development climbed 2.9 percent after providing an update on the acquisition of Salam Medical Services.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.6 percent with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) adding 1.3 percent each. ADCB shareholders approved its proposed merger with Union National Bank, which traded flat.

In Dubai, the index fell 0.6 percent after four straight days of gains, with DAMAC Properties losing 2.8 percent.

Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties decreased 1.5 percent. Its board proposed a full-year dividend of 15 fils a share.

Arqaam Capital said it expected flat dividends of 15 fils per share from Emaar Properties and 11 fils per share from its unit Emaar Malls, adding that the brokerage is "selectively positive" on UAE real estate despite a challenging market in 2019.

But the emirate's largest bank, Emirates NBD, gained 1 percent. It listed a $1 billion conventional bond on Nasdaq Dubai.

Network International Holdings, the largest payment processing company in Africa and the Middle East, said it intends to float on the London stock exchange.

The Dubai-based company is jointly owned by Emirates NBD and private equity firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic.

Qatar's index was down 0.2 percent with Barwa Real Estate plunging 7.3 percent and Commercial Bank losing 0.6 percent as the stocks traded ex-dividend.

Egypt's blue-chip index was up 0.4 percent.

Developer Sixth of October Development and Investment (SODIC) climbed 4.7 percent after it signed a contract with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA).

The value for project will be about 43 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.49 billion), of which the NUCA will receive up to 15.3 billion Egyptian pounds over 11 years. The firm said the project will be floated in the fourth quarter.

Kuwait's premier index rose 1.3 percent with market heavyweight Kuwait Finance House adding 3.7 percent. The stock has risen in the last three sessions after its chairman said the due diligence process to buy Bahrain's Ahli United Bank may conclude in two to three months. Ahli United was up 1.2 percent.

($1 = 17.2550 Egyptian pounds) SAUDI The index rose 0.8 pct to 8,709 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index rose 0.6 pct to 5,127 points DUBAI The index fell 0.6 pct to 2,629 points QATAR The index was down 0.2 pct at 9,954 points EGYPT The index rose 0.4 pct to 14,783 points KUWAIT The index rose 1.3 pct to 5,890 points OMAN The index fell 0.2 pct to 4,153 points BAHRAIN The index was up 0.2 pct at 1,426 points ($1 = 17.2550 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru)