Down the lane of makeovers, the Kuwaiti Dinar

Reshmy Krishnakumar
Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ever since the installation of an independent currency for Kuwait in 1961, the Kuwaiti Dinar, it has undergone various renovations and developments till date. Ranging from the inclusion of various security features to the introduction of symbolic representations, Kuwaiti Dinarhas met with significant make overs.

History says that even before its independence in 1961, some unsuccessful attempts to establish a common currency for Kuwait wasmade by the then Kuwaiti rulers. Interestingly, one such attempt made was to mint copper coins locally, which used the common hammer like tools to shape it. These irregular shaped coins attempted in 1866 was known as ‘Kuwaiti paisa’.

It was in 1960 the Kuwait Currency Board gotestablishedto deal the issuance of Kuwait’s own currency system replacing Indian currency.Later the currency board was dissolved and the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) came into existence in 1969 with the vested power of currency issuances in Kuwait. By April 1971, introduction of a second issue by CBK was completed and both the issues were in circulation in the country. The third issue was introduced soon after the accession of His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah in 1980. Gradually steps were taken to withdraw the first two issues and both ceased to be legal in 1982.

The third issue was marked in the economic history of Kuwait by the introduction of a higher denomination, KD 20 for the first time, in January 1986.Four years later when the whole Kuwait was shattered by the Iraqi invasion, Kuwaiti Dinar was replaced by Iraqi Dinar. The banknotes were stolen in bulk by the invaders which forced Kuwait to withdraw this series with immediate effect in 1991, soon after the liberation and introduced the fourth issue banknotes, including the KD 20 notes, in order to recapture the Kuwait economy.

The present banknotes in circulation are coming under the fifth issue. It was introducedin April 1994 to be circulated together with the fourth issue, where the latter was withdrawn in August, the same year. The fifth issue was made taking advantage of the technology upgrade in the banknote printing industry in favour of the currency security. This included the watermark of falcon head, security thread, micro lettering, latent image, fluorescent images which is visible under UV light and specifically the hologram of the falcon head on 5, 10 and 20 KD notes.

After twenty years, the Central bank of Kuwait is introducing its new set of currency, the 6th one in its series, which will be in circulation from today, the 29th of June, 2014. The new issue is totally a visual treat for the users with its creative and graceful design which takes care of innovative security features too. Each denomination comes with unique theme and images of significant elements pertaining to history, people, culture, tradition, industry, economy and progress of the nation.

As usual the denominations are identified with different colours. This time the colour of each denomination is related to the respective theme. Quarter KD depicts Kuwait’s liberation and heritage as theme with a brown colour, Half KD depicts Kuwaiti icons and its environment with its green colour, One KD depicts Kuwait’s history and Islam with its unique grey colour, Five KD represents economy, finance and the oil industry with its purple shade, Ten KD depicts Kuwait’s democracy and the desert with its reddish orange appearance and finally the Twenty KD depicts the ruling and sea life with its self-explanatory blue shade. All the banknotes are built on one common background of the Kuwaiti flag with an aim to uplift the national spirit.

When it comes to the safety and security aspects, apart from the watermark, security thread and UV recognition which already existed, the new series incorporates possibilities of advanced technology. They include ‘Optical Variable Ink’ which helps the colour change of an inbuilt wave shape, ‘Spectrum’ effect which makes the circles on the solid art area visible when tilted and the ‘See Through’ effect by which the incomplete shapesbecomes visible when held up to the light. These shapes when combined will form the banknote value. The most special feature introduced in this series is the raised print of denominations which makes it easy for the visually impaired ones to deal with cash.

When it comes to the banknotes of Kuwait, CBK has always come up with innovative and impressive ideas. This wasevident in the two commemorative 1 KD polymer notes issued to celebrate the 2nd and 10th anniversary of Kuwait’s Liberation from Iraq. The first one enlisted the nations who assisted Kuwait in thestruggle for liberation while the latter featured anOptically Variable Device patch of a finger print which signified the victims of the invasion.

While announcing the decision to release a new set of currency notes, exactly one year back, in June 2013, CBK had the hope to come up with a set of banknotes which will face the latest counterfeit challenges and at the same time attracts the public and bankers alike. One year later when they are at ‘the release day’, CBK met their expectation and proudly presents another icon to the world representing Kuwait.

Reshmy Krishnakumar is working with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) as Research Assistant. Having done her post-graduation in Statistics, she worked as lecturer at St.Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, until her relocation to Kuwait. As a freelance writer, she is contributing to various magazines, blogs, and websites. Her passion includes classical dance, writing poems in Malayalam and Hindi. She is a member of the Writers’ Forum, Kuwait and the Indian Women In Kuwait (IWIK)
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