Money changers stay away from Iranian rial

Updated 07 May 2013
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Money changers stay away from Iranian rial

Money exchange houses in Makkah and Madinah are refusing to accept Iranian rials from Iranian Umrah pilgrims because the value of the currency has fallen drastically.
Iranians are among the largest groups of foreign pilgrims in the Kingdom this year. They have resorted to using US dollars while abroad due to Iran’s deepening financial crisis, according to Arab News interviews with money exchange offices and retail shop-owners.
The Iranian rial’s value continues to drop in global financial markets, and has fallen far below the Iranian official exchange rate. It takes about IRR 38,450 Iranian rials to buy one US dollar in Tehran.
In February, the annual inflation rate of the Iranian rial reached 121 percent.
Since the beginning of Umrah season, money exchange houses and most shop owners in the holy cities are refusing to accept Iranian rials.
“It is a risk to accept the currency, which is losing value,” said one shop owner. However, some shop owners in Makkah are accepting 50,000 and 100,000 rial notes in the hope that they can sell them later if the value rises.
Gholamreza Rezaie, Iran’s Haj and pilgrimage representative in Saudi Arabia, said that there are more than 500,000 Iranian pilgrims performing Umrah this year. Each pilgrim pays around 30,000,000 rials ($ 2,442) for the pilgrimage. Many of these pilgrims come from the Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Tabriz provinces, according to a report.
The deepening cash crisis is forcing Iran to deploy its security forces to patrol the streets of Tehran and other major cities, warning that security men would arrest anyone illegally trading dollars or carrying foreign currency without an official invoice.
A local Arabic daily reported that Adel Maltani, head of the exchange agents committee in Makkah, said the value of 10,000 Iranian rials is worth not more than 75 halalas. It was previously valued at SR 4.
Maltani said that financial markets during the first three months of the Umrah season contracted by 20 percent against the same period last year.
“The volume of exchange ranged between SR 12 and SR 15 million through 17 accredited exchange shops,” he said.
Maltani explained that some Arab countries too are experiencing political uncertainties with adverse effects on their currencies. Pilgrims from these countries are refraining from exchanging large volumes of cash. He cited the example of the Egyptian pound, which fell more than 15 percent in recent months.
The number of pilgrims from Algeria and Morocco has also dropped off from the previous year, Maltani said. “Those coming from Turkey are better off, in terms of their numbers and the volume of money they spend.”


DiplomaticQuarter: Friendship to the fore as Koreans celebrate National Foundation Day

The event marks the legendary formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2018
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DiplomaticQuarter: Friendship to the fore as Koreans celebrate National Foundation Day

  • The event, on Oct. 15 in the Park Hyatt Lazard’s ballroom, marks the legendary formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C

RIYADH: Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Jeddah Lee Sang-kyoun stressed the importance of the relationship between South Korea and Saudi Arabia as he welcomed guests to a special celebration of Korea’s 4,351st National Foundation Day.

The event, on Oct. 15 in the Park Hyatt Lazard’s ballroom, marks the legendary formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C.

The diplomat and his family warmly welcomed the guests, including Ambassador Jamal Balkhayour, the director general of the Makkah region branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as they arrived at the venue, which was lavishly decorated with flowers and the Korean flag. 

In his opening speech, Lee said: “Korea and Saudi Arabia have shared strong companionship as ‘Rafiq,’ (friends) since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962.” 

He also emphasized the common values shared by the two countries, and their indispensable partnership and cooperation in a number of sectors, beginning with construction and energy in the early 1970s and developing through the years to now include the likes of renewable and nuclear energy, culture and more.

“Notably, the two countries launched a ministerial-level committee, Saudi-Korea Vision 2030, to bolster bilateral cooperation, focusing on supporting business ventures between the two countries,” Lee added.

He said he hopes to see an expansion of cultural and artistic ties between the nations, while also strengthening “person-to-person” contact between young people and future generations.

“Such cultural and human exchange will be a meaningful step toward fostering the values shared by the two countries — working in collaboration for future success and common goals,” he said.

The consul general explained that strengthening such human bonds will encourage an understanding between people of a kind that can only happen through art, history, academia and scientific exchange, which is why the consulate is establishing a cultural center as a “signature window for cultural exchange.” 

The consulate will also set up a foundation for students to “foster the common grounds in their interests and hopes” through an exchange program for Korean and Saudi youths.

Lee added that 2018 has been an important year for South Korea, with the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in PyeongChang, the Inter-Korean Summit, and the Singapore Summit between North Korea and the US.

As the celebration continued, Korean residents were brimming with pride and excitement as they celebrated their National Foundation Day in the Kingdom, while meeting and mingling with friends from Saudi Arabia and other nations.