The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a Western Asian country in the Arabian Peninsula bordered by Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. With a land area of about 2,150,000 square kilometers, the country is the largest in the Middle East and the second-largest Arab nation.

Remains of Al-‘Ula in Saudi Arabia
Source: AS

Before the reign of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Alfaisal in 1902, there were gold, silver, and bronze currencies circulating in the country. One of the most important currencies was the Austrian Taler which was locally known as “Alriyal Alfransi” or “French Riyal” and was commonly used in the Mediterranean during the Ottoman period. This multiple currency situation would often cause public confusion, prompting the country to unify the monetary system and the introduction of the Saudi Riyal in the form of coins.

King Abdulaziz on the Saudi Arabia 20 Riyals | 1999 |
Source: Banknote World

In 1952, The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency was established but it wasn’t permitted to issue paper bills. In 1953, SAMA officials got around with this restriction by issuing Haj Pilgrim Receipts. They have the same features and look like an actual banknote and were issued to meet the high demand for riyals by foreign pilgrims. Initially, it was intended for use by pilgrims only but later on, these receipts were widely used throughout Saudi Arabia, replacing silver coins in transactions that involve a huge amount of money. Pilgrim receipts bear the country’s arms which depicts two crossed swords and a palm tree.

Saudi Arabia 10 Riyals | 1953 | P-1 |
Source: Banknote World Educational

The first regular banknotes were introduced on June 15, 1961, in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 riyals. These paper bills feature landmarks and infrastructure on the front design and the national emblem on the reverse.

Saudi Arabia 1 Riyal | 1977 | P-16 |
Source: Banknote World

In 1976, Saudi Arabia began issuing banknotes that feature rulers. The 1976 set of notes bear the portrait of King Faisal except for the 100 riyal banknote which displays King Abdul Aziz ibn Sa’ud. Meanwhile, most banknotes issued in 1984 portray King Fahd.  In 2000, the country introduced 20 and 200 riyal banknotes to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, featuring the kingdom’s founding father, King Abdul Aziz.

Saudi Arabia 20 Riyals | 2020 | P-44 |
Source: Banknote World

Sixth Issues of the Saudi Arabian riyal banknotes were introduced by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. These notes are in vibrant colors and have enhanced security features such as windowed security threads with demetalized text, holographic stripes, and Motion security threads. Just like preceding issues, this set of notes depicts a king, a famous landmark, and the nation’s coat of arms.

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