Money is pretty much what you would expect to find in the Central Bank, but one collection of notes and coins is proving to be a visitor attraction.
Occupying a section of the ground floor of the building in Abu Dhabi, the Currency Museum contains rows of glass cases displaying paper notes and gold and silver coins dating from long before the Union.
Opened late last year to mark 40 years of the Central Bank, it has attracted school pupils as well as foreign and national currency researchers and collectors. Most visitors say they wished more people knew about the museum.
"It is so important for people to understand how the history of the U.A.E. started, even before 1971,” said Rashid al Nuaimi, who works with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation and also specialises in collecting U.A.E. bank notes and stamps.
"Children will get to know about their country and history here so it is good if more people know about this. If tourist brochures carried information about it, more people would be attracted here.”
The museum has exhibits that range from gold and silver Islamic coins to the Indian rupees popular until the 1960s, with the stamp of the Reserve Bank of India and the crest of three Ashoka lions.
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The exhibits explain how Abu Dhabi had its own currency and Dubai and the northern emirates used their own notes. Brown notes depicting dhows in the Bahraini dinar were used until 1966 in the capital.
The Saudi and Qatari riyal, with motifs of minarets and forts, were adopted by Dubai and the other emirates during the same period.
Exhibits also show how the Currency Board was established in 1973 with its main responsibility being "to issue national currency to replace currencies in circulation”, such as the Bahraini dinar and the Qatar and Dubai riyal.
The dirham was put into circulation for the first time on May 19, 1973 and the Qatari and Dubai riyal and the Bahraini dinar were replaced within weeks at the rate of Dh1 for one riyal and Dh10 for one dinar.
The first series of Dh100, Dh50, Dh10, Dh5 and Dh1 notes were put into circulation with the Dh1,000 added in 1976.
"You can read and understand history through the money because by understanding what money and currency was used you will know how this area was strong in trade and with which countries,” said Ahmed al Hasawi, who works in a government department. He travelled with friends from Umm Al Qaiwain to visit the museum.
"We had our own Indian rupees so you can understand how the Gulf traders went to India. The history of the currency tells you how this area was strong for trading.
"The museum has notes in very good condition and that high quality is very difficult to find. It is good for professional collectors to see because it is very difficult for us to see good quality special issue notes in the market sometimes.”
Old cash counting and sorting machines are also on display.
"We thought it would be good for people to see old shredders, bank-note cancellers where 100 notes could be put in at one time to be cancelled,” said a museum officer.
"The machine would mutilate notes by making a hole in the security features. There are also currency processing machines that could process eight bank notes a second to check for authenticity and sort notes out into fit and unfit lots. Visitors are also interested in a weighing scale that weighed gold bars.”