Qatar & Dubai Banknotes Sell for Record Price

Last Wednesday, October 17, 2012, a presentation album with a complete set of Qatar and Dubai banknotes sold at a Bonhams auction for a record £180,000 (approximately $290,000), eclipsing the original estimate of £25,000 (approximately $80,000). The set consists of a 1 Riyal, 5 Riyals, 10 Riyals, 25 Riyals, 50 Riyals, and 100 Riyals, all bearing the same serial number 000009, all of which are in uncirculated condition.

The notes are quite difficult to find in uncirculated condition, but the 25 and 50 Riyals are difficult even in low grades. This is because very few of the notes were not redeemed after demonetization. According to The History of the Banknotes of the Qatar and Dubai Currency Board, only 1,565 of the 25 Riyal banknote were still outstanding as of 1997. Compared to 550,038 1 Riyal banknotes outstanding, one quickly sees the relative scarcity.

Qatar & Dubai notes are tough to find, but in my opinion these peak prices are not justified as even 1,565 potential complete sets in the collector market is a substantial number compared to some true Arab rarities such as Palestine 50 and 100 Pound notes, among others, of which only a handful of notes survive today. Of course, a premium should be added for the grade and the fact that all notes come in a presentation album and carry the same single-digit first-prefix serial number, but the winning bid is still over-the-top.