Browsing 'economy' News

Neha Rashid / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

US dollars are in short supply at many foreign exchange houses in Qatar, due to increased customer demand and disrupted shipments, employees said.

Last week, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed their air, land and sea borders with the neighboring peninsula state.

The uncertainty over the situation has spurred some residents to exchange their riyals for US dollars in recent days.

Doha News

No dollars at currency exchange in Doha’s Landmark Mall

This, combined with disrupted transportation to Qatar, has left some currency exchange centers with little or no stock of USD.

To mitigate the problem, some houses are imposing limits on the amount of dollars individuals can exchange.

No cause for concern

The run on US dollars appears to have been a knee-jerk reaction by some residents to the past week’s events.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, Qatar’s Riyal has been pegged at around 3.64 to the dollar for years and analysts say this is unlikely to change.

Even if the situation deteriorates, Qatar can use its massive reserves of foreign assets to support their currency.

Additionally, Qatar’s Finance Minister said in an interview with CNBC yesterday that there is no reason for concern, and that he was “extremely comfortable” with the country’s economic position.

Out of stock

Doha News spoke to 11 branches of seven different exchange companies across the city about their stock of US currency this week.

Seven outlets had no dollars, including Trust Exchange in Al Messila, Al Jazeera Exchange in Al Sadd and in Bin Mahmoud, and the City Exchange in Bin Mahmoud.

Al Mana Exchange in Al Muntazah was also out of all currency, a staffer told Doha News.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“We have no stock, and we’re not getting anything tomorrow. There’s no availability in the market,” he said.

Meanwhile, long queues could be seen this week outside the Landmark Mall branch of Al Dar Exchange Works, as residents sought to send money to families back home.

This is not unusual given summer and Eid holidays are when many people travel.

But one of the booths had posted a sign advising customer that it had no dollars for exchange.

In comparison, all the exchanges had a good supply of Euros and UK pounds. And there were no limits for customers exchanging to these currencies, staff said.

Limited transactions

Three exchanges said they had small amounts and were limiting customers to between $500 and $2,000 per person. Just one said it had an adequate supply of dollars.

Neha Rashid / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Al Zaman Exchange in Al Mamoura had a limited supply of dollars, and customers were only allowed up to $500 per person, a dealer there said.

Meanwhile, a staffer at the Qatar-UAE Exchange in City Center mall said they were limiting customers to $2,000 per person.

“Lots of people have come in recently wanting dollars – they’re taking all our stock,” the dealer said.

The Qatar-UAE Exchange branch on Airport Road also had a small supply, and was imposing a $1,000 limit per customer.

“You should come early, as we will run out, and we don’t know when we will get more in. Maybe tomorrow, Insha’Allah (God-willing),” an employee said.

The Dar Al Salam mall branch of the same exchange company had no dollars and an employee there said they did not know when they might get more.

Patrick Gage/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Speaking to Reuters this week, the president of UAE Exchange, which has 10 branches in Qatar, said that his firm hadn’t seen any major change in remittance volumes due to diplomatic tensions.

However, Sudhir Kumar Shetty added that the dollar supply was not meeting demand in Qatar, partly due to flows of the US currency from other Gulf countries being disrupted.

“Everywhere, all the banks and exchange houses, there are no dollars. All the exchange houses are trying to get currencies from other countries,” he said, adding that his firm was hoping for a shipment from Hong Kong.

No limits

Notably, the shortage does not appear to have affected all exchange houses.

Residents who need to stock up on dollars ahead of their summer travels may have better luck waiting until they arrive at the airport.

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

Travelex branches airside and landside at Hamad International Airport (HIA) had dollars in stock.

And they are not imposing any exchange limits on customers, an employee told Doha News.

Have you had any trouble changing your money? Thoughts?

Note: Stock levels at money houses change frequently and residents who wish to change currency should call ahead to confirm availability.


Minister of Finance Ali Shareef Al Emadi

Qatar is not the only one who stands to lose from the ongoing Gulf crisis, the country’s finance minister has warned.

Speaking to CNBC yesterday, Ali Shareef Al Emadi said that the countries who imposed sanctions on Doha have done a lot of damage to business across the region.

“A lot of people think we’re the only ones to lose in this… If we’re going to lose a dollar, they will lose a dollar also,” he said.

Ameer Abdulrazak/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

He added that Qatar is well resourced to withstand the current rift with its neighbors.

“Look at the banks, look at the grocery store, look at the business, go to the malls. We are business as usual. Qatar is always open for business…We have what it takes to defend if we have to do anything locally,” he told CNBC.

Economic concerns

Yesterday, ratings agency Fitch warned that Qatar’s AA credit rating could be hurt if the Gulf crisis lasts too long.

But officials have been working overtime to show that the economy is remaining strong after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties.

Qatar has found new sources for food imports, new routes for port shipments and maintained its natural gas exports.

And after falling over the past week, Qatar’s exchange also got back on solid ground yesterday, an indication that confidence in the country’s economy was being restored.

According to Al Emadi:

“Our reserves and investment funds are more than 250 percent of gross domestic product, so I don’t think there is any reason that people need to be concerned about what’s happening or any speculation on the Qatari riyal.”

The minister concluded, “We are extremely comfortable with our positions, our investments and liquidity in our systems.”

He added that he saw no need for the government to step into the market and buy bonds.



Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar is “well-positioned” to manage the impact that lower oil prices have had on its revenue, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

The country has taken the necessary first steps to handle new deficits by cutting expenditures and diversifying its economy, the IMF added in a recent assessment.

Though there is a risk of rising inflation and continued lower oil prices, the fund has expressed confidence in Qatar’s economic future.


Qatar: Selected Economic and Financial Indicators, 2013–2018

That said, it still forecast the cost of living (CPI) in Qatar to rise from 2.6 percent currently to 5.7 percent by 2018.

This is likely due to the upcoming rollout of two new taxes in Qatar, a value-added one and a selective tax on fast food, luxury goods and other items.


One indicator of Qatar’s economic health has been its GDP. It rose from 2.7 percent in 2016 to an expected 3.4 percent this year, thanks to investment in infrastructure projects.

To keep things running smoothly, the IMF offered several suggestions to authorities.

Reem Saad / Doha News

The price of petrol rose five months in a row before leveling off in April.

For example, it urged Qatar to continue its plans to cut subsidies, lower spending and roll out its new taxes.

The IMF also encouraged Qatar to do more to ensure it is efficiently managing its investments. And it suggested further transparency is needed when explaining the country’s fiscal position.

Other ideas included:

  • Enhancing anti-money laundering efforts to combat the financing of terrorism;
  • Strengthening banks by developing a more “active liquidity forecasting framework”; and
  • Improving Qatar’s business environment through labor market and education reform.