Money talks

“Money” in Arabic is نَقد (naqd, pl. نُقود nuqūd); the root verb means “to pay in cash.” “Currency” is عُملة (ʿumlah), from the root عَمِلَ (ʿamila), meaning “to work,” so عُملة also means (and originally meant?) “wages.” If you’re in a shop and want to ask about a price, stick to something simple: كَم هُوَ هٰذا؟ (kam huwa hādhā), “how much is this?” Definitely substitute the specific word for whatever you want to buy (for هٰذا) if you know it.

There are so many different currencies in circulation in the various Arab nations that this is easier to do as a table. Without trying to invent my own criteria for what is or is not an Arabic-speaking nation, I’m just going to go with the member states of the Arab League. This makes things simple and legitimate, and gives you a sense of the “Arab World” such as it is; the only two states that are not members or observers in the Arab League, despite Arabic being one of their official languages, are Chad and Israel. Also, we get to see how the names of these countries are written in Arabic.

It must be noted that while currency names repeat, these are all separate currencies; the Iraqi Dinar has as much to do with the Jordanian Dinar as the US and Canadian Dollars have to do with one another. Some common names to keep in mind:

  • Dinar (دينار) which derives from the Latin denarius
  • Dirham (درهم), from the Greek drachma
  • Rial or Riyal (ريال), from the Spanish real
  • Qirsh (قرش), from an Ottoman currency called the qurush
  • Lira (ليرة), from the Ottoman currency that took its name from the Venetian currency, which took its name from the Roman librae (from which the British Pound is also derived, so you may see “Pound” and “Lira” used interchangeably)
Country Main currency Sub currency (1/100 unless specified)
Algeria (الجَزائر, al-jazāʾir) دينار (dīnār, Dinar) سَنتيم (santīm, Santeem)
Bahrain (البَحرَين, al-baḥrayn) دينار (dīnār, Dinar) فِلس (fils, Fils)
Comoros (جُزُر القُمُر, juzur al-qumur) فرَنك قُمُري (frank qumurī, Franc) سَنتيم (santīm, Santeem)
Djibouti (جيبوتي, jībūtī) فرَنك (frank, Franc) سَنتيم (santīm, Santeem)
Egypt (مِصر, miṣr) جَنيه مِصري (janīh miṣrī or ganīh miṣrī, Pound) قِرش (qirsh, Qirsh)
Eritrea (إرِترِيا, iritriyā) (OBSERVER) ناكفا (nākfā, Nakfa) سَنت (sant, Cent)
Iraq (العِراق, al-ʿirāq) دينار (dīnār, Dinar) فِلس (fils, Fils) (1/1000)
Jordan (الأُردُن, al-urdun) دينار (dīnār, Dinar) دِرهَم (dirham, Dirham) (1/10)قِرش (qirsh, Qirsh)فِلس (fils, Fils) (1/1000)
Kuwait (الكُوَيت, al-kuwayt) دينار (dīnār, Dinar) فِلس (fils, Fils) (1/1000)
Lebanon (لُبنان, lubnān) ليرة (lirah, Lira) قِرش (qirsh, Qirsh)
Libya (ليبيا, lībyā) دينار (dīnār, Dinar) دِرهَم (dirham, Dirham) (1/1000)
Mauritania (موريتانيا, mūrītānyā) أُوقية (uwqiyah, Ouguiya) خُمس (khums, Khoums) (1/5)
Morocco (المَغرِب, al-maghrib) دِرهَم (dirham, Dirham) سَنتيم (santīm, Santeem)
Oman (عُمان, ʿumān) رِيال (riyāl, Rial) بَيسة (baysah, Baisa) (1/1000)
Palestine (فِلَسطين, filasṭīn) N/A N/A
Qatar (قَطَر, qaṭar) رِيال (riyāl, Riyal) دِرهَم (dirham, Dirham)
Saudi Arabia (السَعودية, al-saʿūdīyah) رِيال (riyāl, Riyal) هَلَلة (halalah, Halala)قِرش (qirsh, Qirsh) (1/20)
Somalia (الصومال, al-ṣūmāl) شِلِن (shillin, Shilling) سَنت (sant, Santi)
Sudan (السودان, al-sūdān) جُنَيه سوداني (junayh sūdānī, Pound) قِرش (qirsh, Qirsh)مِليم (milīm, Milim) 1/1000
>Syria (سورِيا, sūriyā) ليرة سورية (lirah sūrīyah, Lira) قِرش (qirsh, Qirsh)
Tunisia (تونِس, tūnis) دينار (dīnār, Dinar) مِليم (milīm, Milim) 1/1000
United Arab Emirates (الإمارات العَرَبية المُتَّحِدة, al-imārāt al-ʿarabīyah al-muttaḥidah) دِرهَم (dirham, Dirham) فِلس (fils, Fils)
Yemen (اليَمَن, al-yaman) رِيال (riyāl, Rial) فِلس (fils, Fils)

2 thoughts on “Money talks

  1. Pingback: Let’s talk money | Persian Word a Day

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