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.”


Saudi treasures at Louvre Abu Dhabi dazzle visitors

The exhibition helps to spread cultural knowledge among visitors about the glorious past of the region. (Photos/SPA)
Updated 17 December 2018
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Saudi treasures at Louvre Abu Dhabi dazzle visitors

  • The event reflects image of distant past from the heart of a country that preserves the spirit of ancient civilization

JEDDAH: The Roads of Arabia exhibition at the Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi has proved a big attraction for visitors of various nationalities. Subtitled Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia, it carries important information about the history and civilizations of the Kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula.
Visitors expressed their pride that the exhibition confirms the Kingdom’s special place in the field of archaeology, in both the discovery of these treasures and the way they are preserved.
“The exhibition represents the ancient desert memory when trade was the lifeblood of the world. The Arab trade route through the region was one of the world’s most famous routes at the time,” said former Director General of the French National Museums Pierre-Francois Zemmour.
A similar exhibition titled Treasures of Saudi Arabia was held in the Paris Louvre in 2010 and achieved great popularity in Europe, according to Zemmour.
“The exhibition hosted by Louvre Abu Dhabi this year displays 466 artifacts from the Arabian peninsula, the land of the Hijaz and the Arabian Kingdom of Kindah in 200BC,” he added.
“This is a cultural and historical event of great importance which is attracting the attention of thousands of people around the world. It shows the authentic lifestyle of these ancient peoples, who were interested in riding, breeding falcons and hunting, as well as in the protection and organization of commercial convoys,” Zemmour said.
“What is distinctive about the exhibition is that the museum reflects the image of the distant past from the heart of a country that still preserves the spirit of ancient civilization and lives on the spirit of authenticity in a contemporary form.”
Simone Garaudy, a researcher at the National Institute of Archaeology and Heritage in Paris, said that Western and Arab archaeological missions have discovered thousands of important sites in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over the past 10 years. “These discoveries are very important for the history of humanity. It is great to see that the UAE is particularly interested in national museums which represent the memory of the region and preserve the history of the Gulf region and the civilization of the Arabian Desert for the present and future generations,” said Garaudy.
Garaudy said that the Louvre Abu Dhabi displays the great value of the past using the latest techniques of presentation, preservation and storage. “This is very important because it makes it easy for millions of people around the world to follow the exhibitions, which present Arab history to the world,” she added.
Jean de Cornies, an artist and a member of the board of trustees of the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, said that the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum has a collection of thousands of artifacts that reflect Arab lifestyle through the ages, collected from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and Oman.
“The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi works with its counterparts in other Arab countries and around the world, making the Louvre Abu Dhabi a integrated historical memory that reflects a long history of the Arabs.”
Indian researcher Alimuddin said: “I can see sculptures from the Stone Age and artifacts that are tens of thousands of years old, and this makes us rethink many ideas and wonder how these pieces have been preserved, despite the difficult environmental conditions in the region.”
Kabra, a visitor, stressed the importance of viewing this great heritage, noting that she did not know much about the heritage of the Arabian Peninsula, and that holding such exhibitions helps to spread cultural knowledge among the people.