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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 34, August 20, 2006, Article 16

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS HISTORY OF SAUDI CURRENCY

An August 17th article in Asharq Al-Awsat, a leading Arabic
International newspaper highlights the history of currency in
Saudi Arabia:

"I don't know anything about Saudi currency, except that it is
dispensed by ATM machines", said Fahd al Amri, aged 25, as he paid
for his shopping at a center in the Saudi capital.

Many Saudis, like Fahd, do not know the story of the "French Riyal"
coin, which used to be widespread in Saudi Arabia, before the country
was united by King Abdulaziz. It remained in use until 1928, when it
was replaced by the Saudi Riyal.

Despite the French Riyal being minted in Austria and called a thaler
(dollar), it was known in the Arabian Peninsula as the "French Riyal"
and showed a portrait of Empress Maria Theresa on the front and the
Habsburg Double Eagle on the back. In Najd, it was popularly known as
"Abu Shosha".

"Following the "Desert Storm" operation in 1991 to liberate Kuwait,
the Saudi government demanded Yemeni workers be sponsored by Saudis,
thereby halting the transfer of money back to their families, according
to Abdullah al Rimi, a wholesale trader in al Bathaa market in central
Riyadh. Yemenis then found themselves obliged to search for the buried
treasures of Austrian dollars, in order to provide them with financial
liquidity to conduct their businesses. Convoys carrying thalers were
seen heading from the markets of northern Yemen to Jeddah, a city well
known as a center for currency exchange, to convert them into Austrian
dollars.

Another popular currency was the Golden pound, which weighed 8 grams.
It was commonly referred to as "Abu Khayyal" (the knight) as it pictured
King George V. The coin was introduced from India and the parts of the
Arabian Peninsula that were under British control. Ottoman currencies
were also widespread, owing to their fixed weight and high caliber.
They were known as the Majidiya. Other Indian coins such as the Rupee
and Anan were also in circulation."

"Salem al Bichi, a collector of old currencies, said the majority of
Saudis do not collect paper or coin money. Despite the presence of old
currencies in rural areas, their owners often do not realize their value
and sometimes die without telling their loved ones where they have
hidden them."

"The offices of the Saudi Monetary Agency include a Currency Museum,
which charts the history of money and includes pre-Islamic currencies,
as well as money used in more recent times, in five halls."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[I located a web site for the Saudi Monetary Agency include a Currency
Museum.  Click on "Currency Museum" at the left for view photos of the
five halls.  sama-ksa.org/en/museum  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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