|ريال سعودي (Arabic)|
|Code||SAR (numeric: 682)|
|Symbol||SAR, SR, ر.س|
|Freq. used||5, 10, 50, 100, 500 riyals|
|Rarely used||20, 200 riyals|
|Coins||1, 5, 10, 25, 50 halalas, 1 riyal, 2 riyals|
|Central bank||Saudi Central Bank|
|Inflation||-2.09% (Average of 2019) |
|Source||Saudi Central Bank, Jan 2014 est.|
|Pegged with||U.S. dollar (USD) |
$1 USD = 3.75 SAR
The Saudi riyal (Arabic: ريال سعودي riyāl suʿūdiyy) is the currency of Saudi Arabia. It is abbreviated as ر.سSAR, or SR (Saudi Arabian Riyal/Saudi Riyal). It is subdivided into 100 halalas (Arabic: هللة Halalah). The currency is pegged to the US dollar at a constant rate of exchange.
The riyal has been the currency of Saudi Arabia since the country came into being and was the currency of Hejaz before Saudi Arabia was created, one of the primary currencies in the Mediterranean region during the Ottoman era. The Hejaz riyal was based on but not equivalent to the Ottoman 20 kuruş coin and was consequently divided into 20 qirsh. However, although the Hejaz riyal was the same weight as the Ottoman 20 kuruş, it was minted in .917 fineness, compared to .830 fineness for the Ottoman coin. Thus, because the first Saudi riyal had the same specifications as the Hejaz riyal and circulated alongside Ottoman coins, it came to be worth 22 Ottoman kuruş and was consequently subdivided into 22 ghirsh when coins denominated in qirsh were issued from 1925. The system remained even though the riyal was subsequently debased to a coin equivalent, in silver content, to the Indian rupee in 1935.
In 1960, the system was changed to 20 qirsh to a riyal, which was followed in 1963 by the introduction of the halala, one hundredth of a riyal. Some Saudi coins still bear denominations in qirsh, but it is no longer commonly used.
Historical exchange rates
|1936 – 1948||1 SAR = 10.6918 g silver
20 SAR = 7.32238 g gold
|1948 – September 1948||1 SAR = 10.6918 g silver
65 SAR = 7.32238 g gold
|1948 – 1951||1 SAR = 10.6918 g silver||The gold sovereign coin was made legal tender in Saudi Arabia with an initial value of 62 riyals.|
|1951 – 21 October 1952||Informal fixed exchange rate (3+15/22 SAR = 1 USD)||Government begins stabilisation of exchange rate in relation to the U.S. dollar. Saudi Arabia adopted the gold standard. Implied exchange rate with the British sovereign coin was 40 riyals.|
|22 October 1952 – 1 November 1954||Fixed exchange rate (3+15/22 SAR = 1 USD)||Establishment of SAMA makes the fixed exchange rate official.|
|2 November 1954 – 1958||Fixed exchange rate (3.75 SAR = 1 USD)||Slight devaluation as announced by the finance minister.|
|1958 – 22 January 1959
7 February 1959 – 7 January 1960
|Dual exchange rate||A free market currency exchange was established. Official exchange rate was 3.75 riyals per U.S. dollar. A royal decree on 23 January 1959 briefly abolished the free market currency exchange.|
|8 January 1960 – 14 March 1975||Fixed exchange rate with USD||On 23 August 1971, the riyal was devalued by a sixth so that 4.50 SAR = 1 USD. Saudi Arabia did not follow the devaluation of the USD against gold, causing the exchange rate with respect to the USD to become 4.14475 riyals in December 1971 and 3.73027 riyals on February 1973. Following the 1970s energy crisis, the riyal was revalued to 3.55001 riyals per US dollar in August 1973.|
|From 15 March 1975||Anchor to special drawing rights||The currency was anchored to the IMF's special drawing rights at an initial exchange rate of 4.28255 riyals per SDR and was allowed to fluctuate within a band from September 1975 to July 1981. In practice, since 1986, the currency has been pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 3.745 (now 3.75) riyals per US dollar.|
In 1925, transitional copper coins for 1⁄4 and 1⁄2 qirsh (in some parts of the country, it is pronounced girsh) were minted in Mecca by Ibn Saud. They were followed, in 1926, by 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 qirsh cupro-nickel pieces carrying the title "King of Hejaz and Sultan of Nejd".
In 1927, the royal title was changed to "King of Hejaz and Nejd and Dependencies" and coins were issued in denominations of 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 qirsh in cupro-nickel and 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 riyal in silver.
In 1935, the first coins were issued in the name of Saudi Arabia. These were silver 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 riyal coins which were nearly 50% lighter than the previous issue. Cupro-nickel 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 qirsh were also issued from 1937. In 1946 (AH 1365), many of the cupro-nickel coins were countermarked with the Arabic numerals 65 in what Krause and Mishler describe as "a move to break money changers' monopoly on small coins". Cupro-nickel 2 and 4 qirsh were introduced in 1957.
In 1963, the halala was introduced, and bronze 1 halala coins were issued. That was the only year they were struck. Cupro-nickel 5, 10, 25 and 50 halala followed in 1972, inscribed with their denomination in ghirsh or riyal (1, 2 qirsh, 1⁄4, 1⁄2 riyal). In 1976, cupro-nickel 1 riyal coins were introduced, which are also inscribed with the denomination 100 halala. Bimetallic 1 riyal coins, also marked 100 halala, were issued in 1999.
A new series of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 halalas and bimetallic 1 and 2 riyal coins was issued in 2016.
In 1953, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) began issuing Hajj Pilgrim Receipts for 10 riyals, with 1 and 5 riyals following in 1954 and 1956, respectively. These resembled banknotes and were initially intended for use by pilgrims who exchanged foreign currency for them. However, they became widely accepted in Saudi Arabia and largely replaced silver riyal coins in major financial transactions. Consequently, the Monetary Agency began issuing regular banknotes for 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 riyals on 15 June 1961. The Pilgrim Receipts were withdrawn on 1 February 1965.
500 Riyal notes were introduced in 1983. 20 and 200 riyal banknotes were issued in 2000 to commemorate the centenary of the founding of what became the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The 5th series of banknotes bearing the face of King Abdullah were issued in 2007. The 6th series of banknotes bearing the face of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud were issued on 14/3/1438H (13/12/2016).
On May 20, 2007, "the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, pursuant to article (4) of the Saudi Currency Law, issued under the Royal Decree No. (6) and dated 1/7/1379H." announced the fifth domination of the Saudi riyal that features King Abdullah's picture on all notes except the 500 riyals, which features King Abdulaziz. The 100 and 50 riyal notes were released on May 21, 2007. The 10 and 5 riyal notes followed in June 2007, then the 500 riyal followed in September 2007, and finally the 1 riyal note completed the series in December 2007. It is expected by the SAMA that the fourth (current) series will take approximately two years to phase out, although a complete removal of the current series require more than two years since the fourth series has been in circulation for well over 25 years. The fourth series which feature King Fahd's picture will remain legal tender under the Saudi Arabian monetary law. The new series have the latest and most advanced security system to prevent from counterfeiting and other similar activities.
|Banknotes of the Saudi riyal (5th series)|
|Image||Value||Dimensions||Main Color||Description||Date of issue||Date of first issue||Watermark|
|||1 riyal||133 × 63 mm||Light green||7th century gold dinar coin; King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud||SAMA headquarters building||2007||December 31, 2007||King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, electrotype 1, Cornerstones|
|||5 riyals||145 × 66 mm||Violet||Ras Tanura oil refinery; King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud||Ras Tanura tanker loading terminal, Jubayl Port, Eastern Province||2007||July 2007||King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, electrotype 5, Cornerstones|
|||10 riyals||150 × 68 mm||Brown||Murabba Palace; King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud||King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre, Riyadh||2007||July 2007||King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, electrotype 10, Cornerstones|
|||50 riyals||155 × 70 mm||Dark green||Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud||Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem||2007||May 21, 2007||King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, electrotype 50, Cornerstones|
|||100 riyals||160 × 72 mm||Red||Green Dome of The Prophet's Mosque in Medina; King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud||Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Medina||2007||May 21, 2007||King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, electrotype 100, Cornerstones|
|||500 riyals||166 × 74 mm||Blue||Ka'aba in Mecca; King Abdulaziz al Saud||Masjid al-Haram, Mecca||2007||September 2007||King Abdulaziz Al Saud, electrotype 500, Cornerstones|
Series 6 (2016 series)
The newly renamed Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority unveiled a new family of banknotes with the portrait of King Salman on banknotes from 5 to 100 riyals, with a portrait of King Abdulaziz Al Saud on the 500 riyals banknote. On the 4 October 2020, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority announced the first polymer note to be used in Saudi Arabia, being the 5 riyals note, to replace the current paper banknote, without any announcement on the other banknotes. The banknote was said to feature more environmentally friendly materials and additional security features, in addition to a much longer lifespan.
The commemorative 20 riyal note, released in 2020 to commemorate the G20, attracted attention on release, as its reverse depicts the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as a separate nation from India. While this design feature was met with criticism in most of India, it was received favourably by people in Kashmir and on social media, as it was viewed as a tacit form of approval of the region's separatism movement.
|Banknotes of the Saudi riyal (6th series)|
|Image||Value||Dimensions||Main Color||Description||Date of issue||Date of first issue||Watermark|
|||5 riyals||145 ×
|Violet||Shaybah oil refinery in Rub' al Khali; King Salman||Flowers||2016
|December 26, 2016 (Paper)
October 4, 2020 (Polymer)
|King Salman and electrotype 5|
|||10 riyals||150 ×
|Brown||Murabba Palace; King Salman||King Abdullah Financial District||2016||December 26, 2016||King Salman and electrotype 10|
|||50 riyals||155 ×
|Green||Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; King Salman||Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem||2016||December 26, 2016||King Salman and electrotype 50|
|||100 riyals||160 ×
|Red||Green Dome of The Prophet's Mosque, Medina; King Salman||The Prophet's Mosque, Al Madinah Al Monawarah||2016||December 26, 2016||King Salman and electrotype 100|
|||500 riyals||166 ×
|Blue||Ka'aba, Mecca; King Abdulaziz Al Saud||Holy mosque in Makkah Al Mukarramah, Mecca||2016||December 26, 2016||King Abdulaziz Al Saud and electrotype 500|
|Image||Value||Main colour||Description – Front||Description – Reverse||Date of usage|
|||20 riyals||Olive green and gray||King Salman; logo of G20||World map with members of the G20 highlighted, and a star to emphasize the location of Saudi Arabia||2020|
|||200 riyals||Gray, purple, and green||King Abdulaziz al-Saud; logo of Saudi Vision 2030||Qasr al-Hukm||2021|
Fixed exchange rate
In June 1986, the riyal was officially pegged to the IMF's special drawing rights (SDRs). In practice, it is fixed at 1 U.S. dollar = 3.75 riyals, which translates to approximately 1 riyal = 0.266667 dollar. This rate was made official on January 1, 2003.
The riyal briefly rose to a 20-year high after the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates on September 18, 2007, and the SAMA chose not to follow suit, partially due to concerns about the inflationary effects low interest rates and a lower value for the riyal. The riyal returned to its peg against the U.S. dollar in early December 2007.
|Current SAR exchange rates|
|From Google Finance:||AUD CAD CHF CNY EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR JPY|
|From Yahoo! Finance:||AUD CAD CHF CNY EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR JPY|
|From XE.com:||AUD CAD CHF CNY EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR JPY|
|From OANDA:||AUD CAD CHF CNY EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR JPY|
Proposed monetary union
Saudi Arabia is a member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, which planned a monetary union with a single currency by 2010. However, all GCC countries operate with their own currency so far.
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