Currency and Exchange Rate
The currency of Qatar is the Riyal, printed in paper units of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500. The Riyal is divided into 100 Dirhams, and there are thin coins worth 25 and 50 Dirhams. The riyal is pegged to the U.S. dollar, at an exchange rate of QR 3.65 to US $1. Currencies can be exchanged at banks, large hotels, and exchange centers in shopping malls.
Transactions require a debit card, credit card or cash, as checks are not often used in Qatar. Dirhams are in short supply, so stores will often round off your purchases to the nearest riyal. It’s a good idea to carry with you a supply of small bills since many stores will not be able accept the larger QR100 or QR500 bills.
GU-Q employees may choose to have their salary deposited directly into a U.S. bank or have all or part of their salary deposited in Qatari riyals in one of the banks in Qatar.
Banks in Qatar
There are 17 national and foreign banks operating in Qatar. Banks in Qatar offer standard services – checking, savings, loans (including car loans), credit cards, traveler’s checks, money transfers and ATM services. In general, bank hours run from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Some bank branches, particularly those in malls, have Friday and afternoon/evening hours.
Opening an Account
Banks almost always require your residence permit, proof of employment/visa sponsorship and a statement of your monthly salary in order to open an account for you. However, some will be able to start the process for you while your residence permit is getting finalized (other documentation may be required in lieu). Bank representatives can meet you at your preferred location (ex. GU-Q campus) to complete all formalities related to opening an account. It may be a good idea to schedule such a meeting shortly after you arrive to make sure there is no delay to your first salary transfer if you do decide to have it deposited in a local bank account. For assistance with documentation that may be required in this process, please contact the Office of Human Resources.
There are ATMs at bank branches, shopping malls, hotels, and some supermarkets. Qatar National Bank (QNB) has both a branch office and an ATM available in Education City at the Qatar Foundation Recreation Center. Additionally, a QNB ATM has been placed in the Atrium of the GU-Q building.
While few, if any, Qatari banks charge a fee for using their ATMs, you may incur a fee from your personal bank if it is located outside of the country. Fees can run as high as US$5, so for this reason alone it may be advantageous to open an account with a Qatari-based bank. Networks accepted at most ATMs are American Express, Cirrus, Plus, Visa Electron, MasterCard and Visa.