- Country: Oman
- Currency: Rial
- Alias: Rial Omani
- ISO 4217 CODES: OMR/512
- Symbol: RO
The Oman rial – also known as the rial Omani – is the national currency of the Sultanate of Oman, a Middle Eastern country with a population of approximately 3 million situated on the Arabia Sea. Oman is a former British protectorate that gained its independence in 1971. Like many of its Arab neighbors, Oman’s economy is driven in large part by oil exports, though natural gas exports have grown in recent years. The government has worked to keep inflation low, helping to stabilize the value of the rial. The Sultanate is also proactively planning for its economic future in the years after its oil reserves become depleted, which some experts are estimating will happen around the year 2050.
Background of the Omani Rial
The precursor currency to the Omani rial was the Persian Gulf rupee, a derivation of the Indian rupee used by other regional kingdoms such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf rupee was a relatively short-lived currency designed to function as a transitional device, and in 1966, the Omani rial was first introduced into circulation.
The Central Bank of Oman was established in 1974 to unite the country’s somewhat fractured and loosely-regulated banking system, which consisted of numerous independent banks operating under the doctrines of the Muscat Currency Authority and the Oman Currency Board. The Omani rial has been pegged to the U.S. dollar since the mid-1980s at an exchange rate of US$1 = RO 0.385, which has been a major force in keeping inflation to a minimum. Additionally, the Omani government has maintained strict price controls on water and electricity for the last decade, further helping to regulate the cost of living for many citizens.
Since 1962, Oman’s economy has been largely dependent upon the country’s export of oil. The wealth derived from foreign sales of crude has helped to fund massive improvements in public infrastructure, including healthcare and education. Oman is unique in that while it is a significant source of crude oil, it is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). At current pumping rates, the sultanate’s oil reserves are projected to last at least until 2050, and the government has begun to contemplate “life after oil,” which will entail significant economic changes. In recent years, the government has also been promoting a policy known as “Omanization,” which encourages the gradual replacement of foreign labor with local citizens.
The Omani rial is divided in 1,000 baiza. Denominations for coin are 5b, 10b, 25b and 50b. Denominations for banknotes are 100b, 200b, RO 0.25, RO 0.5, RO 1, RO 5, RO 10, RO 20 and RO 50.