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GCC: Currency Dilemma for Arab Gulf Consumers

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hopes to achieve a monetary union, with a common currency, by 2010. Bloggers from the region, which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, debate the merits of the union and more importantly what name they want for their new currency.

And although politicians and economists are yet ironing out the details of the union, the term Khaleeji, which is Arabic for “of the Gulf,” has been proposed for the joint currency. Another name which features high up on the list of choices, which so far includes around 14 proposed names, is Karam, which means generosity in Arabic.

Saudi Ibrahim, who is not pleased with a currency carrying the name Khaleeji, asks his readers to suggest better names for the common currency:

الكل يعلم عن اتجاه دول الخليج لتوحيد العمله المستخدمه ..
وكان من المقترح تسميتها بـ ” خليجي ” طبعاً الإسم بايخ جداً .. وتحسه اسم نادي كوره ولا كوفي شوب ولا معرض سيارات .. بس ابد مايصلح ان يكون عمله.
بعد ماقريت مقالة فالح المطيري اللي تكلم فيها عن العمله الجديده وان اسمها ابد مايصلح .. خصوصاً في التعاملات التجاريه ..
يعني مايصلح تقول عطني بخليجين زعتر وبخليجي جبن و 5 خليجي بيبسي ..
واقترح الاستاذ فالح ” درهال ” كمسمى للعمله الجديده الخليجيه
وهو دمج بين ريال ودينار ودرهم .
Everyone knows the direction the GCC is taking to unify its currency. It has been suggested that the new currency is called “Khaleeji.” There is no doubt that this name is really silly, and makes you feel as if it is the name of a football team or a coffee shop or a car dealership. It really doesn't suit the name of a currency after I read an article by Faleh Al Mutairi where he said that the new currency's name is not suitable, especially in commercial transactions.
For instance, it really doesn't work when you ask for two Khaleejis worth of thyme, one Khaleeji cheese, and five Khaleejis Pepsi. Faleh suggested the term Dirhal, for the unified currency, which is a term coined from Riyal, Dinar and Dirham [currencies of the different GCC countries].

The blogger even jokes, suggesting a name:

وبالنسبه لي انا اقترح ” عخم ”
اختصار لـ عملة خليجيه موحده
( أدري يلوع الكبد )
لالا امزح ..
انا اقترح ” درد ”
اختصار لـ دينار , ريال , درهم
سهل النطق
وطريقة كتابتة كأنه واحد مغمض عينه ويفكر :)
I personally suggest the name ‘Aghem’ which is an acronym for unified Gulf currency. I know it sounds disgusting and I was just kidding.
I suggest “Darad” – which is coins Dinar, Riyal and Dirham and is easy to pronounce and writing it is easy, even when your eyes are shut.

He continues:

السؤال هو .. هل لديك اسم مقترح للعمله الجديده ..
ياليت تذكره لنا
وانا من ناحيتي برسله للمسؤولين .. يمكن انهم متوهقين وماهم لاقين اسم عدل
The question is, do you have a suggestion for a name for the common currency. If you do, please let me know, and I will forward it to the officials, who are perhaps lost and can't find a proper name.

From Kuwait, Jandeef too isn't happy with both Karam and Khaleeji and notes:

كرم؟ والا خليجي؟ … ليش جفت منابع الإبداع؟
فكرة “كرم” طرحت قبل عامين أعتقد، ذلك بعد عدة خلافات بين الدول الأعضاء.
عمان انسحبت من الفكرة برمتها، والسعودية تقول لازم ريال لأننا احنا أقوى وأثقل وأكبر دولة في الخليج، وقطر ودها ريال على استحياء بس الظاهر يحز بخاطرها تتفق مع السعودية في أي شيء.
والإمارات تريد درهم لأنه “تراثي” ولأن اقتصادها يعد الأفضل (ذاك قبل).
ولما طلعت فكرة “دريال” .. زعلوا الكويت والبحرين وقالوا إحنا عملتنا الأقوى، لذلك لازم تكون دينار.
وبعد شد وجذب لسنوات، تخرج علينا الآن بجدية فكرتا “كرم” و”خليجي.”
إنزين خليجي شلون تنقال بالإنجليزي؟ كليجي؟ (مع تغليظ اللام) … وايد غلجة.
وكرم.
يعني احنا الخليجيين أصحاب كرم.
ليش نظهر للعالم بأن لدينا عقدة نقص وأزمة ثقة بالنفس لدرجة أننا نروج لصفاتنا بعملتنا؟
إنزين الكسور شنو نسميها؟ “حسن نية”؟
Karam? Or Khaleeji? Have the springs of creativity run dry? The idea of calling the currency Karam was launched two years ago as I believe, after a few disputes between the member countries. Oman withdrew from the idea altogether, Saudi Arabia said that the currency should be called Riyal because it is the strongest and largest country in the GCC, Qatar insisted on it being called Riyal because it couldn't bring itself to agree with Saudi Arabia on anything.
The UAE wanted Dirham because its traditional and its economy was the best (but that was in the past).
When the idea to call it Diryal, Kuwait and Bahrain weren't pleased because they said their currency was the strongest and that is why the new currency should be called Dinar.
And after a few years of discussions, today a serious discussion is going on about Karam and Khaleeji.
Fine, how do you pronounce Khaleeji in English? It doesn't sound smooth.
And Karam. While I agree that we are generous people, why do we have to show the rest of the world our complexes and how much confidence we lack when we have to promote our traits through the name of our currency?
And fine, if we call the new currency Karam, what will we call the coins – good will?

At online forum Garaaam Assaf argues that the current global economic crunch offers the best opportunity to break free from having GCC currencies pegged to the US dollar:

من أبرز الملفات المطروحه في هذه الفتره على الساحه الاقتصاديه .. مشروع دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي اقامة وحده اقتصاديه وسياسيه شبيهة بالاتحاد الاوروبي .. هذا المشروع ينطوي تحته عدة جوانب دعونا نركز على الجانب ((النقدي)) منها :-
في ظل الديون المتراكمه على الولايات المتحده الامريكيه .. تقف الاداره الامريكيه امام خيارين : 1- عدم تسديد الديون . 2- استمرار حالة التضخم
وبالتالي فإن العملات المرتبطه بالدولار الأمريكي سيطالها تأثير الخيار الثاني وهو تزايد معدلات التضخم .
بالإضافة إلى ذلك فإن استثمارات دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي تتخطى(700) مليار دولار ومن الطبيعي ان تتأثر بأي أثر يمر به الدولار .
قد تكون هذه من وجهة نظري مبررات فعليه و ملحه لإصدار عمله خليجيه موحده .
One of the main projects being discussed on the economic front in the GCC project to form an economic and political union, similar to the European Union. This is a project which covers many areas, but let us focus on its monetary aspect:

The US’ accumulating debts leaves the American administration with two options:
1. Not repaying the debts
2. Continue with inflation, which will in turn, impact the currencies pegged to the US dollar and thereby create higher inflation.
In addition, GCC investments exceed $700 billion and it is natural that they are effected by what the dollar is experiencing. In my view, this could be a pressing excuse for a common GCC currency to be issued.

At the Ajman Tribe Forum Computer Eng is not keen on having Kuwait as part of the project, saying:

اتمنى عدم دخول الكويت في العملة الموحده
لانها سوف تكون الخاسر الاكبر
وسوف تخسر كثير من قيمتها الشرائية
دينار الكويتي=14.5 ريال سعودي
فكيف سيتم تعويض الكويت
على هذا الفرق
اما ان يتم تعويض الكويت بسبب الفرق واما فلا ندخل في هذه العملة
ولنا في اليورو عبارة
I really hope that Kuwait will not be part of the common currency because it will be the biggest loser and will lose a lot of its purchasing power. The Kuwaiti Dinar equals 14.5 Saudi Riyals. How will Kuwait be rewarded for the difference? Either Kuwait is rewarded for the difference or it doesn't become part of the union. We can certainly learn a lesson from the Euro.

Al Saha reports that 14 names have so far been suggested for the common currency.

At Cyrrion, a blog of the Internet encyclopedia of world coins, Stefan Pernar admits his surprise that mainstream media did not pick up the news. He explains:

There is something that is not only new, but something that for the most part has been overlooked by the majority of the news outlets that at least I use to frequent. When GCC leaders concluded their 29th annual summit meeting in Muscat, Oman at the 31st of Dec 2008 with a final approval for the creation of a single currency for the six-nation economic bloc the I certainly did not hear about. Meet the Khaleeji. It is the upcoming common currency of the Gulf Cooperation Council scheduled to go live in 2010.

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