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'There is no risk' in investing in Qatar, country's central banker says

  • Less than $6 billion was moved out of Qatar since diplomatic rift with neighbors unfolded in June — an amount that is "not very significant," central bank governor Abdullah Saud Al-Thani told CNBC
  • In fact, investment inflows exceeded outflows in the past month, according to Al-Thani
  • Al-Thani said Qatar's banking system is ready to "meet all requirements" even if more are looking to move funds out of country

Investment inflows into Qatar exceeded outflows even as the Gulf nation grappled with diplomatic isolation by its neighbors, its central bank governor Abdullah Saud Al-Thani told CNBC in a Sunday interview.

Al-Thani said a "not very significant" amount of less than $6 billion left Qatar over the last month, mostly moved out by non-residents on the first and second day of the crisis. But that level is not too different from those observed before the regional dispute, the central banker said.

"Some of them went as foreign currencies, (it) is normal as it was … We haven't seen a very significant amount drawn from our reserves, and we are satisfied that it is a normal amount of money (that) has been drawn in the last month almost," he said.

Qatar has denied accusations by its neighbors that it supports terrorism and allies with regional foe Iran. But Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have pressed on, pledging to take new political, economic and legal steps against Qatar.

Since the spat first unfolded in June, the Qatari stock market sunk and the country's currency — the riyal — fluctuated wildly, while ratings agency Moody's downgraded Qatar's sovereign credit to "negative" from "stable."

But Al-Thani downplayed the overall impact of the crisis on the country's economy and financial system. He noted that the country's stock market is attracting more interest from foreign investors.

Doha, Qatar prepares to host the Oil Producing Countries Ministerial Meeting on Aug. 17th, 2016.
Justin Solomon | CNBC
Doha, Qatar prepares to host the Oil Producing Countries Ministerial Meeting on Aug. 17th, 2016.

"There is no risk. There are 120 registered asset managers, fund managers and individuals from outside who want to and are interested in playing a role in our stock market … we haven't seen this much in a period of time (of people) who come and invest in our stock market," he said.

"It is not speculation. They are mostly coming for medium to long term to invest in the stock market and also in our treasury bonds."

Should the rift escalate, resulting in more people wanting to move their funds out of Qatar, the country's banking system has enough buffers to "meet all the requirements," according to the governor.

"We find our banking sector well-capitalized, meeting Basel lll as they have high liquid assets, plus they have very good inter-banking activity inside and outside, and they are very stable at this moment. So we don't believe there is anything to worry about at this moment."