close up of 5 riyal qatar currencyThe riyal is the official currency of the State of Qatar, which is located east of Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Peninsula. It is abbreviated as QR or QAR. Read on for a brief history of the riyal and an explanation of banknotes and coins.

A Brief History

The State of Qatar used the Indian rupee, in the form of Gulf rupees, as its form of currency until 1966 when India devalued the rupee. It was then that Qatar decided to issue its own form of currency. In the next few years during this transition, Qatar saw use of the Saudi riyal, followed by what was known as the Qatar and Dubai riyal—a form of currency that arose out of Qatar-Dubai Currency Agreement of 1966. Then in 1971 Dubai joined with six other emirates (with another emirate soon after to join) under the Act of Union to form the United Arab Emirates, calling for a new form of currency issued by Qatar only. In May of 1973 Qatar began issuing Qatar riyal separate from Dubai, and the old Qatar-Dubai banknotes were withdrawn within 90 days of the new Qatar-only notes being issued.


The first Qatar-Dubai riyal banknotes were issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 riyals. With the introduction of the Qatari riyal came banknotes in new denominations of 1, 5, 10, 100, and 500 riyals, and in 1976 a 50-riyal note was added. The Qatari riyal banknotes come in a variety of colors and all feature the coat of arms of Qatar on the obverse. The reverse sides of these banknotes feature various imagery, such as native animals, landscapes, and prominent buildings.


Qatari riyal coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 dirham, with a dirham being 1/100 of one Qatari riyal. The lower valued coins are made from bronze, while the 25 and 50 dirham coins are made from a copper-nickel alloy. All coins feature the official logo of the Qatar Central Bank along with imagery of a sailboat and palm trees on the obverse. The reverse sides each feature the respective value of the coin written in Arabic. The 1 dirham coin is almost out of circulation.

Exchange Rate

The Qatari riyal is pegged at a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, with 1 US dollar equaling 3.64 Qatari riyal.