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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Doha Bank cuts UAE jobs amid ongoing Qatar crisis

Around 10 jobs have been cut, with other staff being put on unpaid leave, according to sources

Doha Bank is said to have cut staff in the UAE as the fallout continues from Qatar's rift with its Arab neighbours
Doha Bank is said to have cut staff in the UAE as the fallout continues from Qatar's rift with its Arab neighbours

Qatar’s fifth-biggest lender has cut around 10 jobs in the United Arab Emirates according to sources, as the country's rift with its Arab neighbours continues to deepen.

Doha Bank is also said to be planning to put some staff in the region on unpaid leave, Reuters reported.

One source said around 100 staff could be put on leave, while another said it might be as high as 200, although the sources said the final number might be different.

The bank will decide by the end of the year whether to make those going on long-term leave redundant if conditions have not improved, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The sources declined to be named as the matter is not yet public.

Doha Bank said the information was incorrect in a statement to Reuters, but declined to elaborate further. The bank employs 1,571 staff, according to its profile on Linkedin.

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Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations and transport ties with Qatar in June, accusing Qatar of backing terrorism, an allegation that Doha denies.

The crisis has meant that banks from the other Arab states have been pulling deposits and loans from Qatari banks, raising their funding costs. Foreign customers’ deposits at banks in Qatar shrank to 157.2 billion riyals in July from 170.6 billion riyals in June, Qatari central bank data shows.

Also, regulators in the other Arab states have warned their banks about doing business with Qatar.

In July, the UAE central bank told local banks to apply enhanced due diligence for accounts held by Doha Bank and five other Qatari banks.

The UAE business of Doha Bank has been in talks to try to sell some of its assets, banking sources told Reuters last month.

Moody’s Investors Service last month changed its outlook on Qatar’s banking system to negative from stable, citing weakening operating conditions and continued funding pressures.

The crisis looks set to continue, after the UAE accused Qatar on Sunday of crushing the short-lived optimism that came after a phone call between the emir of Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia said that talks with Qatar had been suspended and accused Doha of issuing "false reports", just after the emir, Sheikh Tamim, called Prince Mohammed to initiate dialogue to resolve the dispute.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said the reports in Qatari media “interrupted our optimism for a real breakthrough” and that meant Qatar was now in a “worse situation”.