Oman’s Currency Museum is housed in the new prestigious Central bank of Oman building located in the Commercial Business District (CBD). One of its numerous features include a currency collection which illustrates the history of Omani coinage in the pre-Islam and Islamic periods, as well as the history of the Currency and paper money in circulation during the period before the issue of the first national currency - the Saidi Rial - during the reign of His late majesty Sultan Said bin Taimour on 07.05.1970.
Some of the prized possessions of the Museum include the first Islamic silver Dirhams, which are similar to the Sasanian Drachma, Byzantine Currency and Islamic gold Dinars and copper files pieces. History records that the earliest Islamic mint in the Arabian Peninsula was in Oman and that the oldest coin known in Arabia was minted in Oman. This coin - a silver Dirham - dates from the reign of the Ummayad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan and bears the name of Oman. It was minted in the year 81 H (700 G). Other Islamic Currency on display bear verses from the Holy Quran and the Hijri date.
The Museum also contains several examples of foreign imperial currency that was in circulation in Oman between 1801 and 1970 – a time of extensive commercial and economic relations with the outside world; during that period transactions were concluded in Maria Theresa Dollars – minted in Europe from pure silver – and other foreign currencies.
Notes Circulation Between 1916- 1957
Among other items in the collection are legal currency notes of the Indian Empire which were in circulation in the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman between 1927 and 1948, currency notes of the Republic of India from between 1949 and 1957, and currency notes of the Sultanate of Zanzibar and Pemba; these include the 20 Rupee denomination issued in January 1908, as well as 100, 50, 10 and 5 Rupee denominations issued between 1916 and 1920.
The Museum includes currency notes of the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India which were issued for circulation in the Arabian Gulf states after the foreign monetary restrictions were introduced in the Republic of India in 1957.
Paper Currency Issued by Muscat Monetary Authority
The Museum also contains examples of the five issues of Omani paper currency. The first issue, under the supervision of the Muscat Monetary Authority on 07.05.1970, includes paper denominations ranging from 100 Baisas to ¼ Saidi Rial, ½ Saidi Rial, 1 Saidi Rial, 5 Saidi Rials and 10 Saidi Rials.
The Museum also contains gold, silver and bronze commemorative Currency issued during His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s reign. These Currencies commemorate various aspects and achievements of Omani civilization as well as national and international anniversaries and events.
The second paper currency issue took place on 18.11.1972 under the supervision of the Omani Monetary Council. It includes similar denominations to the denominations printed of the first issue, though the name of the unit of currency was changed from Saidi Rial to Omani Rial.
The third issue of Omani currency was the first to be printed under the supervision of the Central Bank of Oman, which commenced operations on 1st April 1975. The Central Bank of Oman also oversaw the fourth and fifth issues of Omani paper notes bore pictures of some of the achievements of Oman’s renaissance during His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Saidi's reign. The notes also bore His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s signature. The Currency and notes of this issue are still valid legal tender. This issue - on 23rd July 1982 – marked the introduction of the first 50 Rial denomination. The other denominations were the same as those of the first and second issues.
Museum facilities include comfortable 26-seat exhibition hall which can screen films and stage visual displays and other programmes about the history of Omani currency and the Central Bank of Oman’s operations.
The Museum is open to visiting groups and members of the public. The entry fee is 250 Baisas per person. Museum is open for the general public during the normal working days (Sunday to Thursday) excluding declared holidays from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm.
A Brief Description of the Museum’s Contents
In all the Museum has 11406 Currency and 108 bank notes, making a combined total of 11514 Coins and bank notes.
The Currency other than the notes include 231 modern commemorative Currency and 333 Currency from earlier times, including 109 old Currency presented by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to the Central Bank of Oman. Among the Currency presented is an extremely rare silver Dirham minted in Oman in the year 81 H during Ummayyad period, in the reign of the Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan. Only two such examples exist in the world – one in the Central Bank collection and the other in a leading foreign museum. (This rare coin is on show in the middle of the hall).
Among the rare paper currency items are a number of notes issued in Zanzibar during the reign of the Al Busaid dynasty. The oldest – the 20 Rupee denomination – was issued on 1st January 1908.
The following is a list of the currency notes on display:-
• Zanzibar collection. 1908/1916/1920
• Indian Rupee – issued by the Government of India (British) 1927-1948
• Indian Rupee – issued by the Reserve bank of India 1949
• Gulf Rupee – issued by the Government of India 1957
• Saidi Rial – issued by the Muscat Monetary Authority 1970
• Oman Rial – issued by the Omani Monetary Council 1972
• Oman Rial – issued by the Central Bank of Oman – a 1976
• Omani Rial – issued by the Central Bank of Oman – b 1985
• Omani Rial – issued by the Central Bank of Oman – c 1995