Guide to Currency in UAE |

Guide to Currency in UAE

Here's all you need to know about the UAE currency notes and coins used in the country.

Posted on

4 September 2012

Last updated on 11 March 2020
Guide to Currency in UAE

Prepare for the UAE with this local money guide.

Marhaba! Traveling to the United Arab Emirates? Although young, the country has an astonishingly rich culture. Great local food, proud history, cutting-edge architecture, stunning installations, and shopping malls you can't beat.

Start planning and prepping your wallet for all the restaurant hopping, souq exploring, and shopping with our handy guide to UAE currency.

What is the local currency in the UAE?

The local currency in Dubai and across the Emirates is the Dirham.

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.

History of UAE currency

The United Arab Emirates dirham was introduced 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.

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

Coins in the UAE

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 the 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.

Guide to Currency in UAE

25 fils (L) / 50 fils (Centre) / 1 dirham (R)

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, so 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.

Guide to Currency in UAE

Notes in the UAE

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 peach/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.