How Sheikh Zayed inked the UAE's future with a fountain pen

New currency note reveals Founding Father's choice of writing instrument

By Leslie Wilson Jr, KT photos: M. Sajjad

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Published: Sat 27 Aug 2022, 7:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 27 Aug 2022, 10:46 PM

When the UAE released its first polymer banknote to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding, perhaps not many may have noticed the symbolism of the Dh50’s design element.

The note depicts the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, signing the union document on one side and the iconic image of the seven leaders of the Emirates on the other side.

A closer look at the currency note will reveal that Sheikh Zayed’s choice of writing instrument, to ink his history-making signature, was a unique fountain pen.

Introduced in 1966, the Lamy 2000, a timeless modern-day classic which is still one of the most celebrated pens in the world, became permanently lodged in UAE history thanks to Sheikh Zayed’s preference for the sleek work of art created by German craftsmen.

Bharat Karani, who owns one of Dubai’s most famous pen shops Pen's Corner, believes that the choice of pen revealed a lot about Sheikh Zayed's vision of the UAE which has become one of the most forward-thinking countries of our time.

“When I first saw the new Dh50 banknote, I could not believe what I was seeing,” he said. “I knew that pen because I sell them today.

“Conceivably, Sheikh Zayed, who was well-known for his far-sighted views, wanted to use a pen for the landmark signing that would symbolise the aspirations of the country.

“The Lamy 2000 is a timeless classic that blends age-old fountain pen design with modernity. Its piston-operated filling system combines with beautiful fibreglass and stainless steel body that has a matt-brushed finish.

“Even when it was introduced in 1966, with its state-of-the-art platinum coated 14 ct gold nib, the pen was a thing of beauty and futuristic.”

Karani also feels that the new UAE banknote will do a lot for the revival of fountain pens which are currently facing an onslaught from the digital world, where pens have taken a back seat.

“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path.”

Speaking at a ceremony to launch the new note Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, referenced the UAE’s forward-thinking values when he said: “Polymer banknotes are more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper notes, and last up to three times longer in circulation.”

The new note does not replace the existing Dh50 note, which features an illustration of an Arabian oryx on one side and the old Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain on the other, and which will remain in circulation.

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