The Arab region is one of the world's most diverse areas when it comes to cultures and dialects. The official language we all share around here is the Modern Standard Arabic, which is also known as "fus7a."
However, each country also has a unique version of the dialect that people adopt in their day-to-day lives. The result? An array of synonyms for so many words we use on a daily basis including one of the most necessary: money.
So how do you go about talking about cash in different Arab countries? Here's a mini-guide:
1. Masare (Lebanon and the Levant)
The word masare is used to reference money by the people of the Levant, especially the Lebanese and Syrians.
If you're speculating whether the word has anything to do with Egypt (Masr in Arabic), you're right ... because it actually originates from the country.
In the early 20th century, when British troops entered the Levant, General Edmund Allenby limited the use of banknotes in the region to cash issued by the National Bank of Egypt — which was controlled by the Brits at the time. So people in these countries started referring to money as masare and continue to do so.
2. Leerat (The Levant)
In several countries in the Levant, including Syria and Lebanon, people refer to money using the word leerat. The latter originates from lira, the local currency currently used in these countries.
3. Fooloos (Egypt)
Egyptians mainly refer to money as fooloos, a word that has Greek/Latin origins and is basically the plural of "fils" — a word used to describe money made of cheap material.
There are other words used to refer to specific amounts of money in the country. These include arnab (rabbit) which stands for 1 million Egyptian pounds and deek roumi (turkey) which translates into 1 trillion Egyptian pounds.
4. Beyzat (UAE, Kuwait, Qatar)
In several countries in the Gulf region, namely Kuwait and the UAE, beyzat is used to refer to money.
The word originates from bezza, once used to refer to a fraction of an Indian rupee, a currency used back when Gulf countries traded with India, Sri Lanka, and other Asian countries.
5. Riyalat (Saudi Arabia)
Saudis use the word riyalat to refer to money and it's basically the plural of the kingdom's local currency: the riyal. People in the country also use the term fooloos when discussing money.
6. Darahem (UAE, Morocco)
The UAE's official currency, the dirham, spurred the word darahem which isn't only used in the Gulf nation but has also become popular in other Arab countries including Morocco.
7. Qooroosh (Sudan)
Qooroosh is the plural of qirsh, a currency once used in countries across the Arab world.
8. Zalat (Yemen)
The Yemeni word for money is zalat and it's used across the country.