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QAR - Qatari Riyal



In times as early as in 3rd century BC, Hellenistic currency prevailed in the land of Qatar. The Al Khalifah clan, that belonged to the North and West of the Arabian peninsula, immigrated to Qatar i.e. near Bahrain Island during the 18th century and defeated the formerly ruling Persians. The Khalifahs then again shifted to Bahrain and made Qatar their dependency. With the help of Britain, Qatar was successful in detaching itself from Bahrain and formed a new independent state in 1868 and in 1916; the country officially became a British protectorate. Qatar had still not produced its own currency and was using British sovereign gold coins and Maria Theresa silver thalers as its mainline currencies. Other currencies, most importantly, the Indian rupee also used to circulate in the country till 1959 when it was taken over by the Persian Gulf rupee issued by the central bank of India.

In 1966, Indian currency had to encounter a drastic drop in its value and the value of Gulf rupee was affected directly. Measures were taken straight up and Qatar decided to introduce its own currency and till the decision was executed, Saudi riyal was adopted as the interim official currency of the country. In the same year, Saudi riyal was replaced with Qatar and Dubai riyal at par, a currency that was issued by Qatar and Dubai jointly. Qatar joined the Federation of Emirates in 1969 along with Bahrain and Trucial States. But as a result of regional disputes, Bahrain and Qatar parted off with the federation and declared themselves independent on 1st September 1971. The country made use of Qatar and Dubai riyal till 1973 when Dubai joined the UAE and discontinued issuing the currency. Qatar then launched its own currency with the name Qatari riyal.

The responsibility to issue banknotes of the currency in Qatar was given to Qatar Monetary Agency that performed its functions till 1996 and handed over the authority and responsibility to Qatar Central bank. The 3 gulf countries namely Qatar, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates came into an agreement of having interdependent exchange rates @ 1 Bahrain dinar = 10 Qatari riyals = 10 UAE dinars in 1978 but the agreement only lasted for 1 year till 1979 as Qatar revalued its currency.

Qatar riyal breaks up into 100 equal parts and the subunit for it is served by dirham. It is often confused with the national currency of United Arab Emirates that is also known as dirham but the difference lies in their values. The currency flow in the country is controlled by the Qatar Central Bank that was established in 1993 and took over the functions of the Qatar Monetary Agency that had been issuing the national currency since 1973. The currency is issued in both, coinage that is denominated in dirham and paper form that is denominated in riyal.

The coins are minted in 5 face values namely 1 dirham, 5, 10, 25 and 50 dirhams. The 1, 5 and 10 dirham coins are produced using bronze as their basic constituent and due to this the natural colour of the coins turns out to be brown. The rest two coins are produced using copper-nickel and are silver in colour. On the obverse sides of all the coins is embossed the official logo of the Qatar Central Bank that shows a landscape showing a sailboat sailing over a water body and palm trees in the background. The reverse sides of the coins bear their respective values engraved in Arabic numerals. Currently the coin that has the least value i.e. 1 dirham is almost out of the circulation.

The paper currency belonging to Qatari riyal is printed in 6 denominations that are 1 riyal, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 riyals. Arabic language is used throughout the front sides of all the notes including the numeral figures and on the backsides of the notes, English is the language used. The reverse sides also possess different images relating to various important buildings, animals and birds. The notes can be differentiated according to their colours as all the denominations have different predominant colours.

Currency Profile

The Rial is the foreign money of Qatar, like a number of gulf countries including Iran, Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia; the rial used in Qatari is called Qatari riyal. As per the ISO 4217 standard, the currency code for the Qatari riyal is QAR and the numeric code given to it is 634. The country adopted riyal as its national currency in 1973 when it took over Qatar and Dubai riyal at par. In daily use, the currency is depicted as QR in the English language and as "?.?" in Arabic language. The subunit of the currency i.e. "dirham" divides one unit of riyal into 100 equal parts.

Qatar is ranked among the major oil producing countries in the world. The economy of the country is largely dependent on oil revenues for it's functioning that accounts to a huge 85% of the total income of the country. In a true sense, oil serves as the backbone of the economy of Qatar. Also, in context of natural gas exports, the country claims the 3rd place. Moreover, Qatar stands 35th among 173 countries in the current Country Credit ratings published by the magazine "Institutional Investor". The currency of the country provides good support for the foreign trade that has flourished over a period of time. As Qatari riyal is pegged to the US dollar on a fixed regime basis @ 1 US dollar = 3.64 Qatari riyals, it provides a stable platform for the economy to operate without much fluctuations in the value. The peg has been made since 1980 although prior to it, the currency was pegged to IMF’s Special Drawing Rights.

The major threat that Qatar still encounters is that its oil and natural gas reserves are estimated to come to an end in around 2030. Also, the sharp rise in country’s liabilities has been a point of concern from a last few years though some experts believe that it is relatively favourable for the country. The imports and exports of all the currencies is free in Qatar. The banknotes issued before 1999 had been withdrawn from circulation and were redeemable till the year 2005.

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