Top commercial bank executives in Qatar have said that local banks possess sufficient dollar liquidity, pointing out that withdrawals were limited.
“Contrary to media reports, there haven’t been big withdrawals from banks in Qatar, and the embargo is only having a limited effect on the banking sector here, and one that is easily manageable,” a central bank official told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
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The official, declining to be named because of commercial sensitivities, was referring to the Gulf crisis after Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states cut diplomatic and transport ties with Doha.
Qatar’s banks became dependent on foreign funding during the last few years of strong economic growth. Their foreign liabilities increased to 451 billion riyals ($124 bn) in March from 310 billion riyals at the end of 2015.
Yousef al-Jaida, chief executive of the Qatar Financial Centre, said this week that institutions from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain had about $18 bn of deposits in Qatari banks that would mature in two months.
He said it was not yet clear whether those countries would decide to have their institutions pull the money out, but added that Qatar’s government was prepared to step in and support local banks if needed.
Many depositors have been asking questions, but nobody else has asked for their money back and one Asian asset manager has continued to place deposits, he added.
Qatar’s central bank has about $34.5 bn of net foreign reserves and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is believed to hold over $200 bn of liquid assets.
The QIA owns stakes in several Qatari banks including 50 percent of Qatar National Bank, the largest lender, and a 16.9 percent stake in Qatar Islamic Bank, the largest sharia-compliant lender by assets.