A huge painting of Oman Mint House welcomes visitors to the Oman Currency Museum at the sprawling Central Bank of Oman campus.
It shows various stages of coin production, where silversmiths smelt the metal, make coins, weigh them, and cart them to the Bait Al Mal, the state treasury.
“It is an imaginary piece of art on manual coin minting. The real exhibits here have been divided into three sections which will help you learn about the evolution of Omani currency and Oman’s history. Display cabinets are fitted with buttons and a screen. By pressing the appropriate buttons you can call up an image of the currency one wishes to view on the screen, together with details of its history,” says Ibrahim Ahmed Al Fadhli, curator at the Oman Currency Museum.
Coins that predated the Holy Mission of The Prophet (PBUH), and oldest coins minted in Macedonia, Greece, Rome, and India are the top exhibits in the category dedicated to the ‘Old, Islamic and Modern Currency’. But the surprise package here is the Byzantine Dinars and Sassanid Dirhams with Christian and Magian symbols. “Those coins were popular in Arabia as The Prophet (PBUH) allowed to use them,” says Ibrahim, who pursues his Masters degree in coins minted in Oman.
The currencies also give an insight into Oman’s global partners in trade and commerce. “Oman’s trade and economic relations with the rest of the world flourished after the ascension of the Al Busaid Dynasty. Commercial dealings were mostly done with Maria Teresa currency minted in Europe from pure silver. Traders also preferred currencies from other countries, including United States, Spain, Iran, India and East Africa,” says Ibrahim.
Legal tender notes of the Indian Empire, which were in circulation in Muscat and the Sultanate of Oman from 1927 to 1948, and Sultanate of Zanzibar and Pemba, are prominently displayed among the banknotes.
The museum gives due importance to the Omani currency, which was first issued on May 7, 1970 under the supervision of Muscat Currency Authority. “Those who visit the museum can see all the five issues of Omani currency and the changes they went through during the last five decades, including the name change from Rial Saidi to Rial Omani and the introduction of the Royal Signature of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said,” he says.
The commemorative section has plenty of priceless medals and coins made of gold, silver and bronze, with themes ranging from wildlife to natural beauty. “Many of these coins commemorate Omani and international events, such as the call for childcare and the anniversary of the United Nations Organisaton.
Coins were also issued during the National Days and special years, such as The Year of Agriculture, Industry, Youth and Heritage,” says Ibrahim. But the important medal of the lot is the one that marks the 250th Anniversary of the Rule of the Al Busaid Dynasty of Oman. The medal carries the names of all Oman Sultans, beginning with Sultan Ahmed bin Said to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.
If seeing the collection wasn’t enough, coin collectors can also buy some of the commemorative coins, bank notes, and old circulation coins to take home.
Plan a visit
The Oman Currency Museum is inside the Central Bank of Oman campus. The facility is open from 9am to 1pm on weekdays. Visitors should carry valid identity cards (resident card, preferably) to gain entry. Big groups should take prior permission before visiting the museum. Entry is free for children while adults have to pay 250 baizas. Visitors can also watch a 10-minute movie on Oman’s monetary history in the lecture room.
Contact: +968-2477 7693.
Central Bank of Oman & Oman Currency Museum
The Central Bank of Oman (CBO), which began its operation on April 1, 1975, functions as an advisor to the Government in all economic affairs, especially monetary and financial matters, in addition to its established functions as the official bank of the government. It receives and accepts deposits as the ‘bank of the banks’ from commercial and specialised banks operating in the country and from foreign banks and international monetary institutions. It also provides credit to local banks, and handles issuance and control of the national currency.
The CBO launched the Oman Currency Museum on April 19, 1999 as a source of information for anyone who wanted to learn more about the monetary history of the Sultanate.
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