The national currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR). The riyal is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of QR 3.64 per US dollar. One riyal is divided into 100 dirhams, with coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 dirhams. The riyal is available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 notes.
It is quite easy to exchange major world currencies in Qatar, as well as the currencies of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Prices are quite similar between banks and money changers, with a large concentration of money changers near the Doha Gold Souk. There are many banks in Doha, with branches also in larger cities. Travellers’ cheques are accepted by the major banks.
City Centre is currently the largest shopping centre in Qatar and has many shops. Other shopping centres include Landmark (with a Marks & Spencer shop), Hyatt Plaza, The Mall, Royal Plaza and Villagio.
Twice a year, the Blue Salon holds a big sale where you can buy suits by Armani, Valentino and Cerutti at half price. There’s a lot to buy here, but beware of cheap beads that are probably fake. Qatar, with its many skilled tailors, is a good place to have clothes made to measure.
The souks in the centre of Doha also have a lot to offer, although the goods are generally of lower quality than those in the shopping malls. Prices are usually negotiable, so practice bargaining. The souq waqif (permanent souk) is the most interesting of the souks; it has recently been renovated to look like it did 50 or 60 years ago. You can buy anything you want, from a turban to a pot big enough to cook a baby camel in!