There is certain romance in the dirham bill

The new 50-dirham note pays tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the first-generation Rulers of the Emirates



It may well be the age of cashless transactions — how many times, for instance, do you use actual paper notes to pay your bills these days? — but there is a certain romance in the power of money.

And it’s not just about feeling rich, it’s a kind of a treasured feeling each time you hold a currency note, or coin, in a different country, because they tell you so much about that land and the people who helped form its vision.

In the UAE particularly, it’s quite the patriotic treasure. Take the one-dirham coin — that can still get you an abra ride across the Bur Dubai creek: you see the imprint of the Dallah coffee pot, emblematic of the Emirati culture. It has a fascinating story, woven from the notion of “hospitality” that the locals are so famed for.

Back in the day when the nation was formed, Emiratis greeted guests with a steaming pot of traditional Arabic coffee — or Qahwa — and dates. The tradition has been captured for time immemorial in the one-dirham coin: each time you clutch one, you are holding a snatch of history in your palm.

In the year of its 50th, the UAE has — fittingly — issued a new avatar of its 50-dirham note. This is its third edition (the first was issued at the time of the introduction of the currency on May 20, 1973, with the 50-dirham note being part of the original lineup; the second was in 1982, and it’s been in circulation for almost 40 years now).

To be sure, in keeping with the times — and in keeping with the futuristic evolution that the UAE stands for — there are some new-age features in the new 50 that goes beyond currency value.

The new note is made with polymer, and therefore sustainable; it will reduce the country’s carbon footprint as polymer is recyclable. The note also has advanced security features to combat counterfeiting.

But the bigger thing is, again, the sense of history that’s been captured: a sense of the passage of time over the past 50 years that have moulded a nation so distinctively. So, while the product itself is an article of faith showcasing the blazing vision the UAE has, the imprint of the note will remain connected with the people and the touchpoints that have propelled the country to its current state of glory.

The new 50-dirham note pays tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the first-generation Rulers of the Emirates — and will thereby ensure no one loses sight of visionary foundations that shape path-breaking futures.


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