Currency In Egypt

Egyptian Currency Over Time

Derived from the French word “Livre Egyptienne”, the symbol of the Egyptian pound is “LE”. One LE equates to 100 piasters, having the Arabic translation as Genaeh. There are 25 and 50 piaster notes available as well as many sizeable coins down to 25 piasters.

While some banks close at 17:00, many are open from 08:30 to 14:00 from Sunday to Thursday. However, banks located at main entry points such as airports and luxury hotels stay open round-the-clock.

Popular credit/debit cards including Visa, MasterCard, all Euro cards and JCB, are acknowledged by most hotels, restaurants and souvenir stores. US dollars, British pound or Euros are also accepted by all banks and in other places, should you choose to convert currency.

The dwindling economy of Egypt has significantly impacted on its the currency, showing its standing against foreign currency. Though in its very beginnings it was even stronger than the Pound Sterling and Kuwaiti Dinar, at present is has become even weaker than the Seychelles Rupee.

The History Of The Egyptian Pound

It all began in 1914 with a declaration given for the Egyptian pound to become the official currency unit, distributed then by the Ahli Bank.

Then in 1960, a law was passed to found the Central Bank of Egypt, with the sole permission to print and distribute the currency.

This currency stood amongst the top worldwide, higher than the pound sterling and up to about 3 US dollars.

However, in 1963 the pound dropped in value about USD 2.3 (USD 1 = EGP 0.43), moving closer towards the Omani riyal currently worth EGP 35.

For close to ten years the pound was kept stable, until the war in 1973 when it increased in value at about USD 1 = EGP 0.38, after which it dropped in 1978 to EGP 0.39 still stronger than the pound sterling.

The Egyptian pound weakened against the Sterling pound for the first time when it lost nearly half of its value resulting from the open-door policy in 1979 which devalued the pound, equating the dollar to EPG 0.70.

As a consequence of the Open Door Economic Policy started by late President Anwar Sadat and the economic growth perceived, the Central Bank of Egypt began printing EGP 20 bills for the first time in 1977. EGP 50, 100 and 200 bills were only printed years later.

The stability of the exchange rate was untested until early 1990. However, the commencement of economic reform initiatives devalued this, equating the dollar to EGP 1.5.

The value of the pound dropped progressively as the dollar catapulted to EGP 3.14 in 1991, until settling at EGP 3.39 per dollar between 1994 and 1998. The pound however remained stronger than the Saudi and Qatari riyal, as well as other currencies of the Gulf.

In 2002, the value of the Egyptian pound dropped to EGP 4 against the dollar and failed with the resolution to float it in 2003 going more than EGP 7 per dollar before regaining strength to be steady at EGP 5.85. This led to the pound dropping below other Gulf currencies for the first time.

The exchange rate declined in the years that followed to EGP 6.06 to the dollar, before rising to EGP 5.43. The pound was unsteady with the unrest of January 25, 2011 getting to EGP 5.9 against the dollar, before it experienced a decline until it was floated on November 3, 2016.

After the unrest in 2011, the pound was devalued many times; lower than the Danish Krone, the Hong Kong dollar, the Venezuelan bolívar and the Solomon Islands dollar, at EGP 6.1, 7.1 up to 7.7 against the dollar in 2015.

The official exchange rate was decreased to about EGP 8.88 against the dollar in March 2016.

The weak Egyptian pound moved closer to the South African rand becoming weaker than the Seychellois rupee following the decision to float it, setting an original guidance rate of EGP 17 to the dollar.

Updated On March 18, 2020