August 19, 2017 / 8:02 PM / a year ago

Saudi central bank says Qatari pilgrims can change riyals

DUBAI (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 United Arab Emirates, 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.

Riyadh exempted Qataris traveling on the annual Muslim haj 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 riyals ($46.9 billion) in June from 184.6 billion riyals in May.

Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Edmund Blair

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