- Country: Qatar
- Currency: Rial
- Alias: Qatari rial
- ISO 4217 CODES: QAR/634
- Symbol: QR
The rial is the national currency of the State of Qatar, a peninsular nation of some 865,000 people surrounded by the Persian Gulf. Once known as a source for high-quality pearls, Qatar’s present-day economy is driven largely by the energy industry, with oil and natural gas exports accounting for more than 85% of the country’s income. Qatar is believed to have the third largest natural gas reserves in the world. Other exports included processed steel, fertilizers, petrochemicals.
Background of the Qatar Rial
Like its other Arabian neighbor, Bahrain, Qatar had developed a worldwide reputation for being a major pearling center in the mid-18th century. The world pearl market collapsed around 1930, when the Japanese invented highly efficient methods for pearl cultivation. Oil was first discovered in Qatar in 1939, but due to the looming pressures of the Second World War, more than 10 years passed before British exploration companies began in earnest to exploit the country’s petroleum reserves.
Qatar gained its formal independence from Britain in 1973. Oil wealth has led to a welfare state, where free education, healthcare and subsidized housing and utilities are enjoyed by a majority of Qatari citizens. The country is aggressively pursuing a policy of “Qatarization,” whereby Qatari nationals are being encouraged to pursue job opportunities that are typically held by foreigners. Oman has maintained a similar policy for several years, though the overall success rate of these types of programs remains unclear.
The Qatari riyal is a fully convertible currency. The Saudi riyal is also accepted locally for small transactions. The Qatari riyal is pegged to the U.S. dollar at US$1 = QR3.65
The rial is divided into 100 dirhams. Dirham coins no longer exists, and even though some prices are quoted locally in dirhams, amounts are typically rounded. Denominations for banknotes are QR1, QR5, QR10, QR50, QR100 and QR500.