The plastic-like material is more durable than the easily torn cotton paper used for the old banknote. It is also waterproof and can be recycled more than once, thus decreasing the cost of producing notes. While the old note can still be used, it can also be exchanged for new ones at banks across the country.
One face of the new note features an image of the Abdel-Fattah Al-Alim Mosque in the New Administrative Capital, and on the other there is an image of the ancient Egyptian queen Hatshepsut. The colour is orange rather than the red of the old note, making it look a little like a British pound sterling design. It was designed by British currency designer De La Rue.
Since the introduction of Egyptian banknotes in 1899, most designs have carried images of ancient Egyptian kings, queens, or monuments on one side, with the other side bearing an image of a mosque and reflecting the country’s Islamic and Pharaonic identities. On the LE100 note produced in 1948, however, the image of former king Farouk was printed on one side.
Egypt’s banknotes have seen many design alterations over time as well as the disappearance and reappearance of some denominations. In 1959, former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser restricted the use of LE50 and LE100 notes to halt the transfer of currency abroad. These two notes were then the highest denominations. In the 1970s, a new LE20 note was introduced as part of the Open Door economic policies of former president Anwar Al-Sadat in addition to the existing LE1, LE5, and LE10 notes. LE50 and LE100 notes were also reintroduced.
Countries often alter the designs and watermarks of their banknotes in order to deter counterfeiting. In 2003, changes were made and advanced anti-counterfeiting technology added to US dollar notes, including a security thread and microprinting.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 21 July, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.