|⁄100 halalah||User(s) Saudi Arabia|
|Symbol ر.س (Arabic), SR (Latin), ﷼ (Unicode)|
Banknotes 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 riyals
Coins 0.01, 0.05, 0.10, 0.25, 0.50, 1 riyal, 2 riyals
The Saudi riyal (Arabic: ريال riyāl; ISO 4217 code: SAR is the currency of Saudi Arabia. It is abbreviated as ر.س or SR (Saudi riyal). It is subdivided into 100 halalas (Arabic: هللة Halalah). The Saudi qirsh is 5 halalas.
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.
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 Makkah 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 coinswhich 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 (٦٥) 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.
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.
Note: Rates obtained from these websites may contradict pegged rate mentioned above
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.