Moroccan Dirham

The Moroccan Dirham is the official currency in the country of Morocco with currency code MAD. Issuance of the Dirham is done by the Bank Al-Maghrin, the Morocco’s central bank.

Historically, the Dirham originated from the Byzantine Empire’s Drachm and circulated in Arabia and the Levant during pre-Islamic times. The name “Dirham” comes from the Roman word “Denarius” which was a currency used during the Roman period. Before 1882 Morocco’s currency consisted of copper coins in Falus denomination, silver coins which are called Dirham, and Benduqi gold coins. Starting 1882 Morocco adopted the Rial as its official currency and Dirham became its fraction with 1 Rial = 10 Dirham. Reintroduction of the Dirham came in 1960 replacing the Franc as a major currency after the French controlled most of Moroccan territories from 1904 to 1956. However, circulation of the Franc continued with 1 Dirham = 100 Francs. By 1974, the Centime replaced the Franc.

The Dirham coin denomination consists of 1, 5, 10, 20 centimes and ½, 1, 2, 5, and 10 dirham. The 1 centime is made up of aluminum and the 5-20 centimes are made from brass. The ½ to 2 dirham coins are composed of cupronickel; while the 5 and 10 dirham are ringed bi-metallic made up of cupronickel and brass for the 5 dirham and aluminum bronze and cupronickel for the 10. Banknotes consist of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 dirham. A US dollar is approximately around 8.13 at present ratings.

The exchange of the Moroccan Dirham appears quite simple and straightforward but visitors and tourists to this country get confused at times with the wide acceptance of the Rial as a monetary unit. The Rial, though not official, is still popularly expressed by many. Rial is used when speaking in Arabic while the Centime when speaking in French. In most parts of the country, the exchange is like this: a Dirham is equal to 20 Rials. In the City of Tangier, though, and the Rif region located in the northern part of Morocco, only 2 Rials is equivalent to the Dirham. There is no set exchange rate or standard for the Rial. And what’s more confusing, the Centimes are at times called Francs or Pesetas in some parts.

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