Role of Hajj in the introduction of Saudi banknotes

A pilgrims’ receipt, printed in Arabic, Persian, English, Urdu, Turkish and Malayan. (Image courtesy SAMA)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Role of Hajj in the introduction of Saudi banknotes

  • SAMA realized that citizens and pilgrims were happy for the old metal coins to be replaced with the paper notes

JEDDAH: The riyal became the currency of Saudi Arabia since it was founded in 1932. Before that the currency was being used only in the Hijaz region. The first Saudi currency bearing the name of the country, which was smaller and lighter than its predecessor, was minted in silver in 1935.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the second-oldest central bank in the Arab world, was created in 1952 to develop and unite the Saudi monetary system. Given the fast-paced growth of the economy and increasing revenues, King Abdul Aziz was aware that it was not realistic to continue using metal coins and there was a need for a more practical form of currency. In particular, piles of silver Saudi riyals were a heavy burden for pilgrims to carry with them during Hajj seasons.
In 1953, the king took a courageous decision to issue the first Saudi banknotes. They were known as “pilgrims’ receipts,” each worth 10 silver riyals.
The first batch of 5 million were printed in Arabic, Persian, English, Urdu, Turkish and Malayan. Pilgrims welcomed the new paper currency and it quickly became widely accepted throughout the Kingdom.
Its success encouraged confidence among Saudi traders and citizens. However, pilgrims started to collect the receipts as souvenirs and gifts to take back to their home countries, which prompted the Ministry of Finance and Economy to ban commercial use of them overseas. The acceptance and popularity of the receipts persuaded SAMA to re-issue them in 1954, with the addition of a new 5 riyal denomination, which was followed by 1 riyal pilgrims’ receipt in 1956.
SAMA realized that citizens and pilgrims were happy for the old metal coins to be replaced with the paper notes, so they decided to keep using it after Hajj, rather than returning to the old currency.
In June 1961, Saudi banknotes were issued for the first time, in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 riyals. As a result, the pilgrims’ receipt was phased out in 1965.
Hajj is not only the reason behind the introduction of Saudi banknotes, it has also played an important role in the increasing the value of the currency. As the number of pilgrims coming to Makkah has continued to grow every year, the demand for riyals has increased at banks and local and foreign exchanges; three times as many riyals are purchased during Hajj season than during the rest of the year. This inflates its value and refreshes the market.
The most-exchanged foreign currencies during Hajj are the US dollar, the euro, the Singapore dollar, the Indian rupee, the Indonesian rupiah, the Emirati dirham and the Malaysian ringgit.


Misk forum connects global youth

High-tech passes allow participants to connect and swap contact details at the touch of a button.
Updated 4 min 43 sec ago
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Misk forum connects global youth

  • It was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most
  • More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world

Young leaders, entrepreneurs, students and inventors mingled in innovative ways at the Misk Global Forum, with name tags that sent delegates’ connections to an app at the press of a flashing button. 

But at the end of the day it was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most.

“I’m seeing people from all over the world gathered here in Riyadh, which has become the center of opportunities,” said Jomana Khoj, a 26-year-old animator from Makkah, before the forum wrapped up on Thursday. 

“Thanks, Misk, for helping us, the youth, gather here and connect with other youth from around the world.”

The forum included “Skills Garages,” workshop spaces with whiteboard tables that could be written on during group brainstorms, with sessions on “The Art of Persuasion” and “Landing Your Dream Tech Job.”

Top left: Paintings displayed in a 360-degree fashion. Bottom left: Participants had a chance to learn about every aspect of the Misk Foundation’s work. Right: Young people exploring their skills, potential and passions during workshops.

The workshop spaces served as a hub for visitors from North America, Africa, Asia and Europe, with many attendees commending the amount of innovation the forum provided. 

“I feel this year’s content is well chosen,” said Faisal Al-Sudairy, a 24-year-old participant. “We really need to prepare ourselves for the future, especially in this fast-changing era, and to know more about what skills we should acquire.”

The workshops catered to developing youths’ skills for the future economy. More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world. 

It was the third annual forum organized by the Misk Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 2011 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  

In the main hall, called the “Skills Factory,” Thursday’s opening session included a speech by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, the UAE’s minister of state for higher education and advanced skills.

“Misk Majlis,” another designated area, provided a relaxed and informal setting that focused on helping delegates build their personal brands. Traditional floor cushions and couches represented traditional Arab social gatherings. 

In the majlis, Misk Innovation held a talk to publicize its new brand and partnership with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm 500 Startups. 

The accelerator program for tech startups in the Middle East and North Africa will last 16 weeks starting from Jan. 27, 2019. Applications close on Dec. 15.

The Misk Art area introduced visitors to works by many renowned Saudi artists, such as Taha Sabban and Safia bin Zager. 

The vibrant hall displayed a large image of a sophisticated woman from Hijaz wearing the traditional Hijazi headdress and sitting on a beautiful ornamental wooden chair well known in the Saudi region. The image provided a transcendence between the past and present.

The Misk Art Institute had a unique section at the forum that was divided into two rooms. One was to showcase paintings and drawings of four pioneering Saudi artists. 

The other room had huge LED screens that gave people a 360-degree experience. The screens displayed paintings in an interactive way and synchronized with tailored music.

The halls were lined with inspirational quotes and the faces of well-known figures. It should come as no surprise that the most popular one was of Misk’s founder, with delegates taking selfies alongside the crown prince’s smiling face.