The Central Bank of Syria has released (24th January) new 5,000-Syrian pound (U.S. $4.00) banknotes into circulation to ease the need for large quantities of smaller value banknotes. The Central Bank of Syria’s director of the treasury department, Mr. Iyed Bilal introduced the new banknote of 5000-Syrian pounds during a press briefing in Damascus, Syria, on the same day the notes were released into circulation.
The soaring level of inflation in the Middle Eastern country, which has experienced more than a decade of civil unrest and conflict, has also seen its economy unravel due to sanctions from many Western countries against the government and its members, Syria’s allies for their role in the war, and most especially — its president. Bashar Assad has been in power in Damascus since 2000 when he inherited the position from his father Hafez Assad, who himself had been president for 29 years. In 2011, opposition to the rule of the Assads culminated in a full-scale civil war in which millions of Syrians were displaced, causing a massive humanitarian crisis worldwide with millions of Syrians becoming refugees.
Syria’s economy has also suffered from years of corruption, ineptitude, and mismanagement to the point that by the Central Bank’s own data, the average rate of inflation stood at 200% in 2020 compared to 2019, with some vital goods and services reaching 300%. According to the United Nations’ estimates, nearly 80% of Syrians now live under or at the poverty line. In recent months, fuel and wheat have been in short supply, compelling the Assad government to reduce subsidies and ration resources. Syria’s economic hardship has been made worse by the pandemic restrictions which have caused chronic shortages of basic foodstuffs such as beans, flour, and cooking oil. Syria’s currency had lost substantial value to its exchange rate since the conflict began in 2011 when one U.S. dollar was equal to 47 Syrian pounds. 10 years later, the same U.S. dollar will now buy 1,250 pounds, though this rate can be more than double on the black market.
The new banknotes, which are dated 2019, are believed to be produced by a state-run security printing facility in Russia on behalf of the Central Bank of Syria. The notes are part of the family of banknotes, in term of design, which was introduced in 2010 with the release of 50, 100, and 200-pound denominations. These notes were later joined by 500, 1,000, and 2,000-pound denominations — the last in 2017. The 5000-pound note is dated 2019 on both the face and back sides and printed using an engraved process on a cotton-based watermarked security paper.
The new 5,000-pound note measures 158 by 65 millimetres and is brown in its overall colour, with a subtle corresponding coordinating underprint. The face design features an image of a soldier centred and saluting the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic. The years displayed on the notes are denoted in Western and Arabic numerals as ٢٠١٩ (2019 AD) and ١٤٤١ (1441 AH). The back side includes illustrations of a fresco from the Temple of Baalshamin, in the city of Palmyra, dedicated to the Canaanite sky deity of the same name dating from the late second century AD. Shown is an eagle with an olive branch in its beak, along with elements of the goddess representing the sun.
Watermark: The Syrian Arab Republic logo and the note’s denomination in numerals can be seen when held up to a source of light.
Security thread: Seen from the face side, a segmented, holographic metallic thread is located to the left-centre side which also contains see-thru micro-text.
Colour-changing ink application: The numeral ٥٠٠٠ is located towards the upper-right corner and is printed using a colour-changing ink which shifts colour from gold to green when the note is tilted under a source of light.
Micro-perforations: When viewed from the face, the numeral 5000 can be seen in a vertical direction and applied using a micro-perforated application, which is prominent when the note is held up to a light source.
Aligned-printing: The shape of an eight-pointed star is located in the same place on the face and back when held up to a source of light; the image appears to be one complete design.
Latent image application: When viewed from the face side, a geometric shape located next to the note’s denomination towards the lower-left includes a latent image which is visible when the note is tilted; the shape itself also changes a subtle colour.
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