Yemen was one of the oldest civilizations in the Middle East. It remained part of the Minaean Kingdom and also of Sheba Kingdom. It got captured successively under Egyptians, Ethiopians and Romans. In 628 AD, they adopted Islam as their religion and thereafter administered as a caliphate until 628 AD. The first Ottoman occupation remained till 1849. The second Ottoman occupation began in 1872 and was maintained until 1918. Thereafter, Yemen acquired autonomy through mass protest and revolution. A Modern Yemen then emerged. On 22nd May 1990, the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) and People Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) merged into a unified Republic of Yemen.
Traditionally, Maria Therese Thaler was associated with the riyal in the 18th and 19th century which became rare Yemen coins. The currency was widely used in Mocha coffee trade with the French.
During transition phase of union of north and south Yemen, northern rial and southern dinar remained legal tender with 1 dinar exchanged for 26 rial. The Republic of Yemen issued first series of Yemen coins such as 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 fils and 1 rial in 1993. Further, fils were demonetized and jotted into old Yemen coins category, while 1 and 5 rials were issued which followed 10 rials coins in 1995 and 20 rials in 2004.