Saudi Arabia: Currency and Banking

Saudi Arabia: Currency and Banking Last updated on Saturday 24th April 2010

The unit of currency is the Saudi Riyal (SR) which is divided into 100 halalahs. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 riyals. There are also one riyal coins. The riyal is quoted in US dollars but is based on Special Drawing Rights (SDR). As the SDR/Dollar rate varies, so the official Riyal/Dollar rate is revalued at intervals to keep within a narrow band of $1=SR3.75.

There is no restriction on converting the riyal or transferring money outside the country. Most foreign currencies can be converted against the Saudi riyal. Commercial banks exist throughout the country and in addition, money-changers deal in foreign currencies and often offer banking transactions.

Banking hours vary slightly from bank to bank but the typical hours are:

Saturday to Wednesday: 0800-1230 and 1700-1900.

Thursday 0900-1230

Money-changers work longer hours.

Changing money is easy, as are currency transfers.

Newspapers carry daily exchange rates for the major currencies against the Saudi riyal.

The Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (SAMA), established in 1952, acts as a central bank overseeing all financial activities. In addition, the government has established a number of specialised banks which help to finance various activities in their particular sectors.

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