Banks have replenished cash — mostly crisp bills of higher denominations — worth an incredible QR2bn in their automated teller machine (ATM) networks across the country to cater to the overwhelming demand for cash during Eid Al Fitr holidays.
Technical teams of various banks have been put on alert so they could rush to ATMs that develop technical snags or gobble up ATM or credit cards of customers during the holidays.
More cash has been placed in ATMs installed at busy commercial centers, including shopping complexes and malls since a lot of people will be visiting these places during the Eid holidays.
Nearly all banks have announced that they will have at least one or a few of their branches open during the holidays to cater to emergency needs.
Bank branches witnessed heavy rush on Sunday as well as yesterday as people queued up at cash counters in large numbers to grab crisp bills mostly of QR5, QR10, QR50 and QR100.
People were in a hurry before Eid to exchange old currency bills of smaller denominations with new, crisp bills that they would be giving away to youngsters on the festive occasion.
It is customary for Muslims, including nationals, to give away crisp and shining currency notes to children, and since ATMs don’t store bills of smaller denominations people have to physically visit bank branches to get the bills.
In the olden days, people usually gave away QR1, QR5 or QR10 notes to youngsters during Eid Al Fitr but the trend has changed with higher inflation pushing down the value of riyal over the years.
People now give away QR10, QR50 and even QR100 to children depending on their financial standing and who they are giving to.
The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) began issuing crisp bills of all denominations to various banks by the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, anticipating increasing demand.
Cash is doled out to youngsters after the devout have said Eid prayers. Since these are very large congregations, spacious grounds or mosques are designated for Eid prayers.
They prayers, which are longer than the usual prayers as they take about 20 minutes, begin at 5.30 this morning.
Immediately after Eid prayers it is customary for nationals to visit the graves of their relatives and friends and pray for the dead. Some expatriate Muslims who have their friends and relatives buried here, also visit the graveyards.
People, especially citizens, then visit their close relatives and friends and give away cash to children. Then they have a sumptuous lunch, mainly rice, meat and dessert, while children move around, visiting relatives and neighbours.
Many people prefer to travel on the eve of Eid to be with their near and dear ones on the festive occasion. Many families have already travelled overseas since there are only 13 days left for the schools to reopen.
The Traffic Department has, meanwhile, asked motorists to take extreme precaution, particularly while driving in residential areas, since pedestrians, including children, would be on the move during the holidays.
“Patrolling will be intensified in residential areas,” First Lieutenant Mohamed Rashid Al Murri was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior yesterday.
More patrolling will be done near mosques, prayer grounds and the roads leading up to them as also near shopping centres and entertainment outlets.
“On the occasion of Eid Al Fitr, the Interior Ministry is making all efforts to maintain law and order and ensure safety and security in all areas of the country,” the ministry said.
According to Colonel Abdullah Ibrahim Al Khulaifi, director of central operations, his department will be working 24 hours during the Eid holidays and respond to emergency calls within ‘10 seconds’.
The staff of the department will be working in four shifts in a day and can interact with callers in different languages, including Arabic, English, Hindi, Tagalog, Persian, French and Chinese.
The Civil Defense said it will also be working during the holidays and will be prepared to respond to any emergency calls. Special attention will be paid to Sealine area where holiday-makers would be rushing.
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