UAE Currency: A Guide to the Currency Used in Abu Dhabi |

UAE Currency: A Guide to the Currency Used in Abu Dhabi

The local currency used in Abu Dhabi and across the United Arab Emirates is the Dirham.

Posted on

24 July 2013

Last updated on 10 November 2019
UAE Currency

The ISO 4217 code currency abbreviation for the United Arab Emirates dirham is AED. Unofficial abbreviations include DHS, DH or Dhs.

The dirham is subdivided into 100 fils.


The United Arab Emirates dirham was introduced in December 1971. It replaced the Qatar and Dubai riyal. The Qatar and Dubai riyal had circulated since 1966 in all of the emirates except Abu Dhabi, where the dirham replaced the Bahraini dinar.

Before 1966, all the emirates that eventually formed the UAE used the Gulf Rupee. As in Qatar, the Emirates briefly adopted the Saudi Riyal during the transition from the Gulf Rupee to the Qatar and Dubai Riyal.

Since November 1997, the Dirham has been pegged to the 1 US Dollar = 3.6725 dirhams, which translates to approximately 1 Dirham = 0.272294 US Dollar.

The name Dirham derives from the Greek word Drachmae, literally meaning "handful", through Latin.


In 1973, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 fils, and 1 dirham. The 1, 5 and 10 fils are struck in bronze, with the higher denominations in cupro-nickel. The fils coins were same size and composition as the corresponding Qatar and Dubai dirham coins. In 1995, the 50 fils and 1 dirham coins were reduced in size, with the new 50 fils being curve-equilateral-heptagonal shaped.

UAE coins

The value and numbers on the coins are written in Eastern Arabic numerals and the text is in Arabic. The 1, 5 and 10 fils coins are rarely used in everyday life, so all amounts are rounded up or down to the nearest multiples of 25 fils. The 1 fils coin is a rarity- if you find one keep it!  In making change there is a risk of confusing the old 50 fils coin for the modern 1 dirham coin because the coins are almost the same size.


In 1973, the U.A.E. Currency Board introduced notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 1000 Dirham. A second series of note was introduced in 1982 which omitted the 1 and 1000 Dirham notes. 500 Dirham notes were introduced in 1983, followed by a one off 200 Dirham in 1989. 1000 Dirham notes were reintroduced in 2000 along with new 200 Dirham notes in 2008. 2011 saw the introduction of a new 500 Dirham note with enhanced security features.

Banknotes are currently available in denominations of:

  • 5 brown
  • 10 green
  • 20 light blue
  • 50 purple
  • 100 pink
  • 200 yellow/brown
  • 500 navy blue
  • 1000 greenish blue

The obverse texts are written in Arabic with numbers in Eastern Arabic numerals; the reverse texts are in English with numbers in Arabic numerals.