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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Saudi Arabia says pilgrims from Qatar can change money

Visitors on hajj exempted from June expulsion order

Qatari pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will be able to exchange currency normally. Fadi Al-Assaad / Reuters
Qatari pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will be able to exchange currency normally. Fadi Al-Assaad / Reuters

Saudi Arabia's central bank said on Saturday it had not banned trading of the Qatari riyal since Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Doha, and said visiting Qatari citizens could exchange their currency.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of backing terrorism, which Qatar denies. Riyadh ordered the expulsion of Qatari citizens from its territory.

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Riyadh exempted Qataris travelling on the annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage to Mecca from its expulsion order. Pilgrims from Qatar began arriving in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

"Qatari nationals can exchange the Qatari riyal normally through licensed banks and money changers, in addition to using ATMs," the central bank said in a brief statement.

Saudi commercial bankers told Reuters in June their central bank had issued informal guidance deterring Saudi financial institutions from doing new business with Qatari banks.

Many Saudi and UAE banks have pulled deposits from Qatar since the diplomatic rift, bankers say. As a result, foreign customers' deposits at banks in Qatar shrank to 170.6 billion Qatari riyals (Dh165.6bn) in June from 184.6bn riyals in May.