Friday, December 29, 2006

The education of Julee - lesson in currencies.

This past Wednesday, Lei and I went to the Credit Union and placed an order for Egyptian pounds (EGP) and Jordanian dinars (JOD). According to our Egypt guidebooks, there are plenty of ATMs in Egypt so we basically got a small amount of currency to get us going and then we'll use our debit cards to withdraw whatever else we need while we're there. I'm hoping we can do the same thing in Jordan.

I love foreign currency and I was particularly curious about the Egyptian pound and Jordanian dinar and so I decided to do a bit of research. Here's some of what I've learned.

Egyptian Pound
Egypt's basic unit of currency is the Egyptian pound ( الجنيه al-Gunaih, pronounced al-ginay) It is divided into 100 piastres (قرش qirsh) or 1000 milliemes (مليم malleem). The ISO 4217 code is EGP. Locally, the abbreviation LE or L.E., which stands for livre égyptienne is frequently used.

Banknotes worth 5, 10, 25, 50 piastres, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pounds are currently in circulation. Notes of 25 piastres and above are issued by the Central Bank of Egypt, while 5 and 10 piastres are issued by the state.

All Egyptian banknotes are bilingual. The obverse face is in Arabic and usually has a picture of a well known mosque in Egypt. The reverse face is in English and usually has pictures of ancient Egyptian figures, statues or monuments. Some examples are shown below.

25 Egyptian piaster note or Quarter. The Arabic face has the picture of Aisha Mosque.



The back or the English face of the Quarter has the picture of the Quraysh Hawk, the official symbol of Egypt.



50 Egyptian piaster note or half pound note. The Arabic face of the half pound note with the picture of Al Azhar mosque.



The English face of the half pound note with the picture of Ramses II.



The Egyptian pound note. The Arabic face of the pound has the picture of Sultan Qayetbay mosque.



The other face of the Egyptian pound has the picture of Abu Simbel temple in Aswan.



Jordanian Dinar
Jordan's basic unit of currency is the Jordanian dinar (دينار أردني in Arabic). Confusingly enough, the dinar is probably the only currency that has two subdivisions - 100 piastres (قرش qirsh) or 1000 fils. Figuring out "small change" in Jordan is going to be a real challenge!!

The ISO 4217 code is JOD. Locally, the abbreviation used is simply "JD" . Banknotes worth 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 pounds are currently in circulation. Coins in amounts of half-dinar, quarter-dinar, ten piastres, five piastres, 100 fils, and 50 fils are in circulation.

As with the Egytian pound, the Jordanian dinar is bilingual and has two faces - one face in Arabic and the other in English. The Arabic face of the Jordanian dinar banknote usually shows a picture of a past or current member of the royal family and the English face, a famous monument or statue. Some examples are shown below.

Jordanian dinar note. The Arabic face has a picture of King Hussein and the English face, the ruins of Jerash.



Jordanian five dinar note. The Arabic face has a picture of King Hussein and the English face, the Treasury at Petra.



....interestingly, the Jordanian is not pegged to another country's currency. Instead, since October 23, 1995, the dinar has been officially pegged to the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

I was curious about the exchange rate for the two currencies so I did a quick conversion on http://www.xe.com/. The rates on December 26th were as follows:

1 USD = 5.71 EGP; 1 EGP = .18 USD
1 USD = .71 JOD; 1 JOD = 1.41 USD

Hopefully, our dollar will go far in Egypt so we can conserve funds for Jordan which I expect will be expensive - especially given that we'll be going to tourist hotspots.