Saudi Arabia - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab country of the Middle East bordered by Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Bahrain via the King Fahd causeway, has a total land area of 830,000 square miles and a population of over 25.7 million. Mecca and Medina, the holiest two sites in Islam are in Saudi Arabia. The country has the world’s largest oil reserves and is also its largest exporter. It is a founding member of OPEC. Once considered as a close ally of the US, Saudi Arabia has in recent times distanced itself from the West by investing in regional relations. It is among the largest contributors of development aid, though it is limited to Muslims only. Petroleum is the biggest contributor to its economy and the country is trying to expand into other areas.

Travel Resources: 

Saudi Arabia is among the most visited places of the world, given its religious significance.  Its tourist attractions are based on Arabic values and traditions. The major attractions include the mosque Al_Masjid al-Haram, Kabaa, and the Black Stone at Mecca, and Masjid al-Nabwi at Medina. Staple of Saudi cuisine includes fava beans, wheat, rice, yogurt, dates, and chicken. Lamb and sheep are consumed at special occasions. Saudi cuisine is spicy, rich and some  popular dishes include shawarma, falafel, grilled chicken and lamb, kabsa, kleeja and khobz. Flavored black tea is also popular.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Oman, UAE, and the Arabian Peninsula978-1741791457$22A Traveler’s Introduction Covering 100 pages followed by sections on Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. Saud Arabia section is around 75 pages.
Saudi Arabia – Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs and culture978-1857333510$10A short introduction followed by chapters on Land and People, Values and Attitudes, Customs and Religions, Making Friends, Private and Family Life, Time Out, Travel, Health, and Safety, Business Briefing, and Communicating.
In the Land of Invisible WomenB003BLY772$10Memoir of a British-born Pakistan physician in Saudi Arabia. The book is a great read for westerners unaware of the Saudi society.
Saudi Arabia Travel Map978-1553413899$111:750,000 Scale.
Saudi Arabia Grounded Adapter Plug – GUA, GUB, and GUDB0016ZPWKG$21

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Saudi Arabia were Hejaz issues released in October of 1916. The set (Scott #L1 to #L3) catalogs for around $100 mint and around $75 used. The designs show an adaptation of carved door panels of Mosque El Salih Talay of Cairo, Adaption of Page of Koran in Mosque of El Sultan Barquq in Cairo, and Adaptation from details of an ancient prayer niche in the Mosque of El Amri at Qus in Upper Egypt. A few other Koran and similar religious themes along with several overprints formed the Hejaz issues until 1922 when a set of seven stamps (Scott #L32 to #L39) in the Arms of Sherif of Mecca theme appeared. That set catalogs for around $20 mint and around $3 used. Varieties of these first issues with overprints issued for local use formed the primary stamp issues of Saudi Arabia until 1925. Chief among them were a long set of twenty stamps issued in March of 1925 that were issued under the Nejdi administration of Hejaz. The set featured overprints on Turkish issues from 1913 and 1915 along with overprints on Hejaz issues during the period from 1922 to 1924. The stamps (Scott #1 to #20) are valuable and sought after with each one cataloging for over $20 mint or used. Hejaz, the western part of Arabia issued many stamps between 1916 and 1925 that are noted for their variety. In 1925, Nejd conquered the Kingdom of Hejaz and the Turkish overprints were issued during this period.

Saudi Arabia released a set of six stamps under the Kingdom of Hejaz-Nejd on February of 1926. The set (Scott #69 to #74) catalogs for around $75 mint and around $50 used. The designs show Arabic inscriptions and value. Certain other handstamp overprints and a design showing Tughra of King Abdul Aziz formed the themes in the issues till 1934. On January 8, 1926, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud was crowned King of Hejaz and the following year he took the additional title of King of Nejd. The issues from 1926 to 1932 are issues of that Kingdom. Saudi Arabia released a set of twelve stamps in January of 1934 to mark the proclamation of Emir Saud as Heir Apparent of Arabia. The set (Scott #138 to #149) catalogs for around $1500 mint and around the same for used. A different Tughra of King Abdul Aziz design was used in another long-running set (Scott #159 to #172) during the period from 1934 to 1957. That set is also sought after cataloging in the $270 range for mint and around $20 used.

Other issues of Saudi Arabia enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. Two sets of stamps released between 1960 and 1962 in the Industrial theme. The sets (Scott #211 to #226 and #227 to #242) catalogs for around $260 and $210 respectively for mint and around $20 for used. The designs show Wadi Hanifa Dam near Riyadh and the Gas-Oil Separating Plant in Buqqa.
  2. A set of two stamps released on October 26, 1975 in the Ancient Islamic Holy Places theme. The set (Scott #683 to #684) catalogs for around $15 MNH and less than a dollar for used. The design shows Friday Mosque of Medina, and Juwatha Mosque of al-Hasa. Islamic theme is very common on Saudi Arabian issues and forms a good collectible theme. They generally catalog for a premium over regular issues from the same periods. Saudi Arabia has many significant historic Muslim sites including the two holy sites Mecca and Medina. But, under Saudi rule, the Hejaz cities have suffered from vast destruction due to Saudi Wahhabism.
  3. A set of three stamps and a souvenir sheet released on February 26, 1997 to celebrate King Fahd’s 74th birthday. The set (Scott #1249 to #1251) catalogs for around $5 MNH and around half that for used. The design shows a head portrait of King Fahd. The souvenir sheet features a bigger version of King Fahd’s portrait and that catalogs for around $15. Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was King of Saudi Arabia from June 13, 1982 to August 1, 2005. He had a debilitating stroke in 1995 and from that point on was officially inactive.
  4. Two blocks of four stamps released on August 20, 2005 in the Ancient Artifacts and Ruins theme. The set (Scott #1360a-d and #1361a-d) catalogs for around $10 MNH or used. The designs show bowl, mask of animal, mask of human, and inscribed tablet on the first block and different ruins on the second block.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Saudi Arabia were Anaonymous Hammered Copper Coinage denominated in Madmudis issued from around 1804. The issues are all very valuable cataloging into the $1000 range for VF. King Abd Al-Aziz bin Sa’ud Transitional Copper and Bronze Coinage stuck at the Mecca mint denominated in Ghirsh showing Toughra in Obverse and Inscription in Reverse debut in 1924. Those issues are also valuable and catalog well into the 100s. Certain Arabic numbers raised in circle countermarks appeared in 1945 – the issues are valuable but fake countermarks are in abundance. Reform Coinage (5 Halala = 1 Ghirsh, 100 Halala = 1 Riyal) debut in 1963 with the introduction of Bronze Halalas showing Crossed swords and palm tree in Obverse and Value and date below legend in Reverse. The issue is common and can be had for a few dollars in UNC. Gold Coins were first issued in 1947 with the introduction of 0.2354 troy ounce sovereigns showing Eagle with wings open in Obverse and three lined inscription with horizontal bars in Reverse. They were issued and handed over from the Philadelphia Mint as concession payment for oil to the Saudi government. The issues are valued at a premium to bullion value, although mintage is over 100,000.

Numismatic items of Saudi Arabia include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNC Halalas from the 1970s onward starts around $1. UNC Silver Coins from the 1930s onward starts around $10. Early Silver Year Sets, Graded Silver Coins at MS60 and above, etc starts around $50 and go into the 100s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNC Riyals starts around $1. Commemorative UNC Notes, Low Serial Numbers, etc starts around $10. UNC Sets with 10-pieces or more with continous serial numbers starts around $30. Early Large Notes in VF+, Solid Number Sets, and Bundles start around $50 and go well into the 100s.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Dates, baklawa, Aladin lamps, artwork, spices and carpets are best from Saudi Arabia.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Miscellaneous Collectibles$3 and upMilitary Patches, Lapel Pins etc start around $3. Liberation of Kuwait Military Medals start around $20. Vintage Original Royalty Photos, Vintage Brass Coffee Pots, etc start around $35.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

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