At a special ceremony this month, the world’s newest banknote printing works – and the first in the GCC and the Levant area – was formally opened, at Khalifa Industrial Zone, Abu Dhabi.
The ceremony took place in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He was given a tour of the new facility by Mr Mubarak Rahsed Al Mansoori, Governor of the UAE Central Bank and Chief Executive Officer of the Emirates Investment Authority and presented with the first 1,000 dirham (AED) note printed there, bearing the number 1, by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
The new printworks has been on the drawing board for several years now, with construction starting in 2015. It is operated by Oumolat Security Printing (‘Oumolat’ is a native Arabic word and literally translates into ‘currency’), a company set up and wholly-owned by the Emirates Investment Authority.
The original plan had been to locate the printworks next to the Central Bank of the UAE. However, the decision was then taken to set it up as an independent and fully commercial operation that will, in due course, provide printing services for central banks across the Middle East and beyond. Hence the decision to choose a greenfield site at the Khalifa Industrial Zone, which is next to Khalifa port, equidistant between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and close to three international airports.
The new facility is equipped with pre-press and a full printing line – which includes a 12 colour offset press and a 5 colour intaglio press from Komori, an additional 5 colour intaglio press from KBA NotaSys, a Gietz foiling unit, a KBA-NotaSys NotaScreen and CNP system.
All of the machines have the latest integrated technology for inspection and verification, and the product is controlled through a complete track and trace solution installed on all printing equipment, supplemented by a fully automated storage system.
The facility also contains a large vault and state of the art security and protection systems.
The annual capacity, working on one shift, is 335 million notes. Oumolat has already been printing the UAE’s lower denomination notes since last autumn, moving up to the more complex highest denomination, the 1,000 AED, in time for the formal opening. And it is now, according to Anton Gasteiger, Oumolat’s Managing Director, ready to take on additional orders.
Oumolat said it ‘aspires to become the premium choice of central banks for any banknote related matters, including production, consultancy, planning of security upgrades to existing banknote designs, provision of conceptual design ideas and conceiving of new security features and concepts’.
The total facility measures 64,000m² and represents a major investment for the banknote printing industry. It currently employs 100 people, but expects to have a workforce of 120 by the end of the year.
The new printworks is part of a package of investment by the UAE government to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil. It is also seen as a move to anchor the country as the economic heart of the region, and to put it in pole position to print the new common Gulf currency, should such plans materialise.
Enjoyed this article?
Stay informed with Currency News every month