The Rial/Riyal name is based on the Latin term ‘regalis’ which literally means royal.
It shares a similar etymology to the ‘Real’ currency which can be found in Brazil and previously in Spain and Portugal which used the currencies called Real for many hundreds of years.
Several Rial currencies use a Dinar or Dirham as a subunit. Including the Brazilian Real, six countries use the Riyal in their currencies name. They are detailed below.
Brazilian Real (BRL)
The Real or Reais in its plural form, has been the currency of Brazil since 1994 when it replaced the Cruzeiro Real. At the time the Brazilian economy was undergoing significant structural transformations..
In the last survey by the Bank for International Settlements, the Brazilian Real was the 20th most traded currency and accounted for on average 1.1% of the daily volume of FX transactions.
Given the turbulence experienced domestically in Brazil in recent years, the Real has fluctuated heavily in value against major western currencies.
Iranian Rial (IRR)
The Iranian Rial is an old currency with its origins in the 18th century. The current currency dates back to well before the infamous 1979 revolution.
The Iranian Rial is one of the world’s least valued currencies. One months rent on a small city centre flat is around ﷼ 100,000,000 a month. This is in large part due to dire economic conditions in the country caused by international sanctions. Inflation is at well over 50%.
The Iranian Rial is subject to huge foreign exchange controls and due to sanctions is not allowed to be traded on the international currency markets (even if the country wanted to).
Plans have been made in recent years to replace the Rial with a new currency, the ‘Toman.’ It’s expected that this new currency will be phased in over the next few years.
Omani Rial (OMR)
The Rial is the official currency of Oman, which has the currency code of OMR. One Rial is divided into 1000 Baizas.
The name “rial” was first introduced in 1973 when the currency was decimalized and replaced the Gulf rupee, which had been used up until that point in a number of states in the Arabian peninsula.
You can read more on our dedicated OMR currency profile.
Qatari Rial (QAR)
The Qatari riyal is the official currency of the State of Qatar. It is divided into 100 dirhams and is abbreviated as QR (English) or ﷼ (Arabic).
Last year, at the height of the world cup we published an article that took an in-depth look at the Qatri Rial. You can read it here.
You can read more on our dedicated QAR currency profile.
Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR)
The Saudi Riyal (SAR) has been the official currency of Saudi Arabia since the country came into existence in 1932.
The Riyal was first introduced into circulation in 1925 in Hejaz and Nejd (the predecessor states to Saudi Arabia). The currency was initially pegged to the Pound Sterling but this was abandoned in 1945.
You can read more on our dedicated SAR currency profile.
Yemeni Rial (YER)
The Rial has been in use in Yemen for a long period of time. It was the currency of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen and then the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen.) During this time it was divided into 60 zalat, 80 halala or 40 buqsha.
When North and South Yemen united in 1990, both their respective currencies were legal tender. In 1996, the South Yemeni Dinar was removed from circulation and today’s Rial entered into circulation.
The currency is highly volatile due to the ongoing political instability in the country. It is technically divided into 100 fils, however these are not used due to the high levels of inflation in the country.