Currency in Dubai, UAE
Currency used in UAE and Dubai is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED)
The UAE dirham is pegged to the US dollar with the rate fixed at (approximately) Dh3.67 = US$1.00 (or 1 UAE dirham = 0.273 US dollars).
- The currency unit in the United Arab Emirates is the UAE dirham, divided into into 100 fils.
- Common abbreviations include AED or Dh before the number, and dh or dhs after the number.
- Shops in the larger shopping centers might accept some foreign currencies. Usually other Gulf (GCC) currencies, US dollars, Euros, and British pounds.
- UAE banknotes are printed overseas including the UK and France. The Central Bank has announced plans to build a currency printing plant in Abu Dhabi (Reuters 12 Dec 2009).
Money Changers in the UAE
- Foreign currency exchange is available at banks and money changers for most of the common currencies.
- Shopping centers usually have a money changer that is open the same hours as shops are (banks hours are shorter).
- Al Ansari Exchange, Al Rostamani (Thomas Cook), and UAExchange are popular money changers in the UAE.
- Money changers in the UAE are generally safe to use, especially if you use reputable agencies. If you're not sure if a money exchange is reputable or not, go to one in a shopping mall.
List of banknotes and coins used in Dubai and the UAE
|Banknotes in the UAE|
|Amount||Color||Picture front||Picture back||Size mm1||Circulation5||Comments|
|5 dirhams||brown||Sharjah Central Souk||Landscape||145x612|
|10 dirhams||green||Arabian dagger (Jambiya)||Farm||147x62|
|20 dirhams||turquoise||Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club||Dhow (Samaa, Sama'a)||149x63|
|50 dirhams||purple||Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain||Oryx||151x64|
|100 dirhams||red||Al Fahidi Fort in Dubai||Dubai World Trade Center||155x66|
|200 dirhams3||orange||Sharia Court and Zayed Sports City||UAE Central Bank HQ||157x67||older notes are brown|
|500 dirhams||blue||Jumeirah Mosque||Falcon||159x68|
|1000 dirhams||brown||Al Hosn Palace in Abu Dhabi||Abu Dhabi corniche towers||163x70||darker brown than 5 dhs|
|Coins in the UAE|
|1 fil5||3.5m||very rarely seen|
|5 fils||40m||rarely seen|
|10 fils||50m||rarely seen|
|50 fils (small)4||365m||common|
|1 dh (small)4||~50 fils (old)4||common|
|50 fils (large)4||~1 dh (new)4||uncommon|
|1 dh (large)4||uncommon|
|[?] 5 dh||rare, first issued 1975|
|Commemorative coins in the UAE|
|25 dh||20g silver|
|50 dh||40g silver|
|100 dh||60g silver6||9x issed 1999-2018|
|500 dh7||20g gold||6x issued 1976-2003|
|1000 dh7||40g gold||16x issued 1976-2013|
|1500 dh7||60g gold||4x issued 2004-2012|
|5000 dh7||200g gold||2x issued in 1996.|
|250,000 dh8||No, was incorrect headline|
- All banknotes are issued by the UAE Central Bank and are printed in English on one side, and Arabic on the other. Coins have "United Arab Emirates" and the denomination in Arabic on one side, and a picture and date on the other. Coins show face value only in Arabic (or not at all for gold commemorative coins), not in English.
- Chicklets are not an official UAE currency unit issued by the Central Bank, but an irritating replacement common at petrol stations and small supermarkets in lieu of small change. Chicklets are a one-way transaction only, you can't use them for purchases (although if enough people tried, maybe that would encourage shops to give proper change).
- Banknotes are of increasing size as the value increases.
- Size given as 157mm x 67mm by UAE Central Bank but that appears to be an error, the 5 dh note is smaller than the 200 dh note. Our estimate is 145mm x 61mm (not confirmed).
- The 200 dh bank note was updated in May 2008 to reduce confusion with the 5 dh and 1000 dh banknotes.
- From 1995 new 50 fil and 1 dirham coins were issued, smaller than the older coins. The new 50 fil coin has a heptagonal shape (7 sides not 6). The new 1 dh coin is similar in size to the old 50 fil coin, and the two coins are easily confused if not looking at them. If you get a 50 fil coin instead of a 1 dh coin as change in a shop, don't be too quick to accuse them of trying to scam you. It is much more likely to be a mistake. We've had it go both ways, getting 1 dh instead of 50 fils or vice-versa.
- Some sources say the 1 fil coin was withdrawn from circulation in 2005. We didn't find any official reference to confirm that, but did find reports from 30 Jan 2018 which said there were 3.4 million one-fil coins in circulation.
Reports referred to a FNC session where the topic of a shortage of low-value coins was discussed. Obaid bin Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, gave the numbers of coins in circulation as of 25 Jan 2018 as follows (Reference: GN, KT, TN)
- 1 fil coins: 3.4 million, value AED 34,000
- 5 fil coins: 42.4 million, value AED 2.12 million.
- 10 fil coins: 48.7 million, value AED 4.87 million.
- 25 fil coins: 262 million, value AED 65.5 million.
- 50 fil coins: 363.8 million, value AED 181.9 million.
- The AED 100 silver commemorative coins are all 59 or 60g of silver except for the 40g 1999 issue commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Dubai Ports and Customs Department.
- Commemorative coins in table listed with a face value AED 500 or greater are not issued with the face value showing on the coin, so the values given in the table are based on:
- Coins issued prior to 1996 with a face value of AED 500 or AED 1000 do have the face value written on them. Higher value, or weight coins were not issued before 1996.
- Those coins have weights of 20g and 40g of gold respectively.
- Face values for coins without the amount shown are calculated on the basis of AED 500 for each 20g of gold weight.
- Silver coins all show the face value.
- See heading "Commemorative Dirham not worth AED250,000, Sep 2018" below.
Commemorative Dirham not worth AED250,000, Sep 2018
Numismatic eyebrows were raised somewhat when reading UAE newspaper headlines on 17 Sep 2018, for example:
- Dhs250,000 Emirati School Commemorative Dirham
- New Dh250,000 commemorative coin launched in UAE
AED 250k is an unlikely amount for a single coin face value, anywhere, even if the UAE was trying to get a headline for Most Expensive Coin in the World. It's even more unlikely for a coin that weights only 6g, is made of copper-nickel, and commemorates a school. Not to cast aspersions on the value of education, but to put things in perspective, the 200g gold coin celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of the UAE is considered to have a face value equivalent to AED 5,000. Difficult to think of something that would be 50x more significant than the 25th anniversary of the UAE. Perhaps the 1000th anniversary of the UAE, or the completion of the first terraformed Dubai suburb on planet Mars - Dubai Mars City?
Explanation is found in the original press release from WAM (16 Sep 2018) which said a partnership between the UAE MOE and the UAE Central Bank "... resulted in a joint initiative to issue the AED250,000 Emirati School Commemorative Dirham." Presumably they meant 250,000 coins would be issued. The photos of the coins show the denomination is AED 1. An earlier press release also explained the coin commemorates the "UAE New Education System Emirati School", rather than just a single school.
UAE currency history
Note that 1 UAE dirham is ~ 100 Qatari dirhams, or 1 UAE fil = 1 Qatari dirham. The Qatari riyal is split into 100 Qatari dirhams.
- From 1973, two years after the founding of the UAE, notes and coins were issued as UAE dirhams for the entire country. The new currency replaced the old currencies in use until then at the following rates.
- 1 UAE dirham = 0.1 Bahraini dinar, or 1 BD = 10 Dhs.
- 1 UAE dirham = 1 Dubai-Qatari riyal, or 1 UAE dirham = 100 DQ-dirhams (QD-dirhams), or 1 UAE fil = 1 QD-dirham.
- From 1966 to 1973, the Trucial States then the UAE, except for Abu Dhabi, used the Qatari-Dubai riyal
- Abu Dhabi emirate used the Bahrani dinar and fil. One BD = 100 fils. One BD = 10 Gulf rupees.
- Dubai and other emirates used the Qatari riyal and dirham. One QR = 100 dirhams (a different dirham from the UAE currency used from 1973).
- Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain each issued their own coins but used Dubai-Qatari banknotes.
- Before the mid-1960s, the Indian rupee was used in the UAE, or more specifically the Gulf rupee, which was still issued by India and had the same value as the Indian rupee but was pink and not legal tender in India. You will occasionally hear older residents say "rupees" when referring to "dirhams".
UAE currency museum
- 18 Dec 2013 - the Central Bank announced the opening of a currency museum at its headquarters. See UAE coins and notes museum for more information.
UAE currency updates
- 20 Aug 2012 - the UAE Central Bank announced that a new version of the 50 dirham note would be issued, and circulation of the new notes would begin on Monday 30 July 2012. The new note would have a new security feature - the silver metallic thread on the front of the note would be replaced with a broader (3mm) colour shifting thread reading "UAE 50".
- 2012? New AED 500 notes were put into circulation, with new security features but otherwise looking much the same as the older 500 dirham notes.
GCC Common Currency and Monetary Union
- The six GCC countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE - had planned to launch a common currency by 2010, but Oman pulled out of discussions in 2006, and the UAE withdrew in 2009. In 2009 the 2010 target was moved to 2015 but as of 2014 that seems unlikely to happen. "Maybe one day" is probably the most realistic launch date for now.
- Other information moved to GCC currency union section on list of GCC countries page.
[Update] UAE commemorative coins and other special issues
Since 1976, the UAE Central Bank has issued commemorative coins on a regular basis, annually from 1998. In 1976 two coins were issued in denominations of 500 dhs and 1000 dhs, made of gold. You probably won't get one as change from your shopping trip to Carrefour. In subsequent years a range of denominations have been issued, including 1 dh, 5 dhs, 10 dh, 50 dh, and 100 dhs coins. Materials include copper-nickel alloy, silver, and gold.
- 10 March 2012 (announcement date) - The UAE Central Bank will issue a silver coin to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Khalifa International Date Palm Award, with the logo on the back, and the portrait of UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the front.
- 03 March 2012 (Gulf News report) - the "UAE's first gold coin" will be available by the end of March 2012 reportedly. The announcement that it will be the first gold coin issued by the UAE seems a bit odd - there were gold coins issued in 1976. But anyway, the coin will have a portrait of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the front, and a picture of the Burj Khalifa on the back. Coin is being marketed by the Dubai Multi-Commodities Center (DMCC). A prototype was launched in August 2011.
Last update Wednesday 24-Apr-2019
- www.centralbank.ae - UAE Central Bank official website.
- en.numista.com - numista.com coin information website and coin collector forum. UAE coins section with sub-sections for emirates which issued their own coins. Also a section for the Qatar-Dubai riyal from 1966-1973. Start at Home > Catalogue > Country list.
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