Dollar shortages hit Qatar exchange houses as foreign banks scale back ties

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Shortages of US dollars hit money exchange houses in Qatar on Sunday, making it harder for worried foreign workers to send money home, as foreign banks scaled back business with Qatari institutions because of the region's diplomatic crisis.

Several other exchange houses in Doha also told Reuters they had no supplies of dollars. At Qatar-UAE Exchange, dozens of people - some of the foreigners who comprise nearly 90 percent of the population of 2.6 million - waited quietly in line to change money or make remittances to their home countries.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahraini and Egyptian banks began scaling back business with Qatar last week after their governments cut diplomatic and transport ties, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Then at the weekend, the UAE told its banks to exercise "enhanced due diligence" towards six Qatari banks which, it alleged, might have done business with people or entities on a terrorism blacklist.

That stopped short of a complete ban on business with Qatar but the effect may turn out to be much the same. UAE banks were absent from Qatar's foreign exchange and money markets on Sunday, causing both those markets to slow down, because they feared any deals could expose them to legal risk, bankers said.

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