Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Currency


The UAE’s unit of currency is the Dirham. A dirham is divided into 100 fils and there are coins for 50 fils and 25 fils. Much less common, but still sometimes to be found in circulation, there are little brown coins worth 5 and 10 fils respectively. Much more prevalent, and valued at anything up to 50 fils, although 25 is more reasonable, is the Chiclet.

The UAE central bank has never really recognised the Chiclet, but then no other Middle East central bank has – and it’s a recognised unit of currency throughout the Arab World. Wherever you go in the region, a lack of small change in any shop is met with a Chiclet. A boiled sweet or small pack of Wrigley’s gum is acceptable if the shop doesn’t, for some strange reason, have a sufficient stock of two-piece packs of Chiclets.

Nobody ever buys Chiclets. They get given them as change. And, oddly enough, they're the Middle East's market leading gum - they're actually made in Lebanon.

It’s probably the strangest product success story of 'em all...

4 comments:

Mars said...

we'll be trading in eggs and goats next...

Brn said...

You know, three years in Al Ain, I was never once given gum as change, but on two trips to Doha, no store ever had any coins at all and all I got was gum.

i*maginate said...

I wasn't exactly concentrating on the word chiclet to get the gist of the post. I kept reading the word again and again trying to figure it out and realised you were talking about the gum! Hilarious!

I believe shortchanging a customer when it can be avoided is grand theft. It deserves a GDP Sector of its own.

sabaza said...

They do need to rethink coinage / currency in these countries...Yesterday I realized that the price of a small bottle of water is now 1.50 Dhs in gas stations. Now while the cost is still not very high, the increase is 50%. Do you think maybe part of the reason is that they couldn't make the increment to say 1.20 Dhs. How would they give you 30 fils back?

I understand that there will be price increases due to inflation, but a 50% increase on a commodity as essential as water is ridiculous!

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