By MOBIN PANDIT
DOHA: Gold prices surged to an all-time high in the local and global markets yesterday.
One gram of pure (24-carat) gold was selling at QR146.50 in Qatar yesterday, a sudden jump from QR137 almost overnight.
On the London Bullion Market, gold hit a record $1,251.85 an ounce at about 0925 GMT.
The trend is particularly worrisome for citizens and South Asian expatriates, coming as it does at the beginning of the wedding season, when demand for the yellow metal soars.
In fact, the wedding season in India and Pakistan is already on and an increasing number of people are buying gold here to carry home.
“It’s the highest-ever rate we have seen for gold locally,” said Muzammil Hanif, Vice-President of Al Fardan Exchange, whose group is also in the bullion trade.
Fears that a sovereign debt crisis might spread to other member countries of the European Union (EU) are increasingly prompting investors to park their funds in gold, he said.
“This is pushing gold prices up,” added Muzammil Hanif, who has been watching the local gold trade for more than 30 years.
According to the famous jewellery chain, Damas, the price of 22 carat gold has peaked at QR139 per gram, while the prices of 21 and 18 carat gold are at QR132 and QR114 per gram, respectively.
Jewellery is made of 22, 21 and 18-carat gold. While the former versions are mostly preferred by Qatari and South Asian families, Filipinos opt for 18-carat gold jewellery.
An official from Damas said the demand for gold was peaking despite the soaring prices. “This is the marriage season in India and Pakistan, so a lot of expatriates are buying gold jewellery to carry along,” he added.
The marriage season of the Qatari community is to begin in about two weeks, when demand for the yellow metal is expected to go up further.
The nationals have two wedding seasons in a year — in January and February, and during the long summer vacations.
Qatari families are quite fond of jewellery and a family on average spends around QR100,000 on gold ornaments alone for a marriage.
As for investors here, their craving for pure gold biscuits and bars remains stable. The demand for pure gold is, though, limited in Qatar.
Internationally, as individuals and institutions with euro assets switch to other assets, including gold, which is considered the safest haven during any crisis, gold prices are likely to surge further, market sources said.