Arabic Numerals

The modern numerals widely used today were probably developed in India, but it was Arabs who transmitted this system to the West. In 771, an Indian scholar arrived in Baghdad bringing with him a treatise on astronomy that used the Indian numerical system, which the Arabs admired because it was more economical than the Roman system. In time, they added a further improvement: the sifr ("cipher"), or zero.

Source: Saudi Aramco World, (January-February 2002)