Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Are you for Riyal!?

I apologize. We have neglected to write possibly the most obvious post for a blog like this. I never considered that this type of information would even be interesting until we returned to the States. One of the most frequently asked questions we've gotten since coming back home is, "What does the money look like?"

DUH! Why didn't I realize that people would want to know that?! I apologize, dear readers for denying you of this little nugget of currency trivia.

Unfortunately, we only have 2 denominations with us in the States, so you get a limited peek at what the Saudi Riyal looks like for right now.

The Fifty

On the back of the 50 note, you see the al-Aqsa mosque, located in the Old City in Jerusalem. It, along with the Dome of the Rock, is part of the Noble Sanctuary. According to a source, the Noble Sanctuary is the third most holy site in Islam.

The back side of the 50 note also has the "Arabic" numerals (so ironic because those numbers are not used in Arabic), the numbers most of us recognize as the 5 and the 0. This comes in handy when there's a long line of people waiting behind you at the cash register and you've got to pretend you know what you're handing the clerk.

This is the front of the 50 note. On this side you find the true Arabic numbers. The circle is the 5 (called "khamsa" in Arabic) and the dot is the zero (called "siffra" in Arabic). Even though you read Arabic letters from right to left, you read the numbers from left to right. It's ridiculously confusing.

On the front you find good ol' Baba Abdullah, as the citizens of Saudi Arabia lovingly call him. King Abdullah has been printed on the Saudi currency since 2007. The mosque pictured next to his smiling face is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the other half of the Noble Sanctuary.

The Hundred

Hard to see up against this backdrop, but the 100 riyal note is kind of an orange-pink-purple color. On the back of the note you see the "Arabic" numerals again and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, the second most holy site in Islam. The Prophet's Mosque was built by Mohammed in 622 AD. Medina was Mohammed's home and the mosque contains his tomb.

It's a pretty impressive place, from what I can tell. I'll never be able to see it in person because non-Muslims are not allowed inside the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

On the front you find the real Arabic numbers. The thing that looks like a 1 is the one (called "wahed" in Arabic) and the two dots are the two zeros. Dear ol' Baba is smiling at you again, and next to him is the green dome at the Prophet's Mosque that marks the Prophet's tomb.

There you have it, at least the start of it. These are the only two Saudi bills we have with us in the States. They'll help us get a taxi back to our house in Saudi when we return in a few weeks. When we return, I'll show you a few of the other denominations and explain the significance of the sites/pictures on each.

Quick fact: The coins in Saudi are called "halalas." It always makes me sing "Deck the Halls" in my head every time I hear the word.

Ha la la la la, la la la la.

Vicariously yours,

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