Paper Money

Saudi Arabia issues its first polymer note for circulation

Saudi Arabia’s first polymer bank note, a 5-riyal denomination, began circulating in the kingdom on Oct. 5.

Images courtesy of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority.

Saudi Arabia’s first polymer bank note, a 5-riyal denomination, began circulating in the kingdom on Oct. 5.

The substrate used in making the note is called Guardian, made by CCL Secure, and is the same material as was used on the first polymer note, issued by Australia in 1998, and since then on 160 others. Although the material is made by CCL, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority made sure it was known that this polymer is made with Saudi petrochemical materials.

Not lost in the decision to switch from paper, in addition to the usual cost, security, durability and environmental reasons, is that polymer is said to be able withstand the kingdom’s oppressive average summer temperature of 133 degrees better than paper does.

The design, purple color, and 145- by 66-millimeter size are similar to the cotton paper issue (which will remain legal tender), but the polymer note has new security elements.

The right side of the face has the head of the titular leader of the country, 84-year-old King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, referred to as “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.” To his immediate left is a picture of the huge Shaybah oil field in the northern edge of the Empty Quarter Desert in the country’s southeast. A transparent window has the logo of Saudi Vision 2030. Under the window is a pattern with the denomination as an Arab numeral that changes from purple to teal when the note is tilted. A metallic thread runs from top to bottom. Fluorescent patterns are visible when viewed under ultraviolet light.

The back has as its main elements a colorful representation of local wildflowers, and the transparent Saudi Vision 2030 window. The back also features a decorative stripe printed in iridescent ink.

Saudi Vision 2030 is the framework of a plan to lessen Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil by diversifying its economy and developing areas such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

The 5-riyal note is worth the approximate equivalent of $1.33 in U.S. funds.

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