The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is located in Northwest Africa bordered by the Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Atlantic Ocean to the west, Algeria to the northeast, Senegal to the southwest, and Mali to the east and southeast. A huge part of Mauritania is in the Sahara Desert, making it prone to droughts.
Although the country has rich natural resources, Mauritania is a desperately poor desert country where most citizens still rely on livestock and agriculture for their means of living. The Central Bank of Mauritania is responsible for the production of the country’s monetary unit, the ouguiya, since its establishment on May 30, 1973.
In 1973, the bank issued notes with a watermark that reflects the face of a girl. The front of the notes is in Arabic while the reverse is in French, bringing the country’s colonial past to light.
In 1974, another set of notes printed by Giesecke & Devrient was released. The notes have a watermark that reflects a portrait of a wise, old native man. The watermark was inspired by a portrait that bank governor Ahmed Ould Daddah bought while he was in Goree island in 1974. The portrait was drawn by French artist Myrto Debard, illustrating the bearded Smalils sharif Sidi Ethmane Ould Mohamed Mahmoud Essemlaly.
In 2004, the bank issued notes with entirely new designs. In 2011, another set of notes was released with added security elements such as a ClearText windowed security thread with demetalized text. Finally, on December 5, 2017, in line with the redenomination of the ouguiya currency, a new family of notes was unveiled.