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Money in the UAE - Guide for Tourists


Page update - Sep 28, 2023

What tourists should know about the currency of the UAE? What features does Emirati dirham have? What coins and notes will you take in your hands? Read the answers and see actual exchange rates to dollar, euro, pound, rupei, etc below on this page.

The information on this page has been updated to September 2023.

The latest news

In the summer of 2023, the UAE Public Prosecutor's Office publicly reminded that any dirham note or coin contains the country's coat of arms. Accordingly, public intentional damage of banknotes is an offence under Article 141 of the Federal Law 14 (2018).

The penalty is calculated according to the formula: LARGER OF(AED 1,000 or 10 X the demaged banknote). Conclusion: do not damage notes or coins in public even as a joke.

New banknotes

The issue of a new series of Emirati dirham banknotes continues.

On December 2, 2022, the UAE Central Bank issued the new 1,000 dirham banknote to commemorate UAE National Day. Please note that the old 1,000 dirham banknotes remain in circulation. We understand that it is unlikely that any tourist will hold such a banknote in the hands, but just in case, we inform and provide a photo of the new AED 1000 banknote. This banknote went in full circulation in April 2023.

On April 21, 2022, the two new 5 and 10 dirham banknotes were released and went into free circulation on April 21 and 26, 2022. Note that the old banknotes of these denominations remain in circulation. See photos of the old banknotes below on this page. See photo of the new 5 dirham bill and photo of the new 10 dirham bill.

On December 7, 2021, the new 50 dirham banknote was released. It is a special banknote commemorating the 50th anniversary of the UAE. The front side depicts Sheikh Zayed (the founding father of the UAE). This is the country's first full-plastic banknote. As this new banknote looks like, see this photo.

IN TOTAL! The 5, 10, 50, and 1,000 dirham banknotes are already found in TWO different versions. Don't be surprised.

Currency of the United Arab Emirates

The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the "UAE Dirham", the junior unit of the currency is the "Fils". 1 UAE dirham = 100 UAE fils.

Symbols and designations

The official designation of the UAE dirham according to ISO 4217 is "AED". It is often used in documents, on displays in banks, in currency exchange offices.

In case of price tags in stores, cafes and restaurants it is usually shorter: "DH", "Dh" or "Dhs".

Usually the currency is called by the phrase "Emirati Dirham" to differ from Moroccan, Libyan, Jordan, Qatari Dirhams.

The dirham and the fils also have Arabic signs (see pictures below). Fortunately for tourists, those signs are not found in large cities; they are rarely seen in small towns.

Dirham in Arabic

Fils in Arabic

Current exchange rate of UAE dirham

The exchange rate of the dirham is pegged to the US dollar.

1 AED = 0.272294 USD.

1 USD = 3.6725 AED.

Of course rates are floating with regards to Euro, British pound, rupee and other currencies. See current exchange rates in the table below.


Exchange rates at 17.06.2024

1 UAE dirham = 0,2724 US dollar
1 UAE dirham = 0,2150 UK pound
1 UAE dirham = 0,2544 EURO
1 UAE dirham = 0,3744 CAN dollar
1 UAE dirham = 0,4124 AUS dollar
1 UAE dirham = 0,4451 NZ dollar
1 UAE dirham = 22,7670 IND rupee
1 UAE dirham = 0,2429 Swiss francs
1 UAE dirham = 1,9776 Chinese yuan
1 UAE dirham = 42,9490 Japanese yen

1 US dollar = 3,6711 UAE dirham
1 UK pound = 4,6512 UAE dirham
1 EURO = 3,9308 UAE dirham
1 CAN dollar = 2,6709 UAE dirham
1 AUS dollar = 2,4248 UAE dirham
1 NZ dollar = 2,2467 UAE dirham
1 IND rupee = 0,0439 UAE dirham
1 Swiss francs = 4,1169 UAE dirham
1 Chinese yuan = 0,5057 UAE dirham
1 Japanese yen = 0,0233 UAE dirham

Features useful to know

- Prices in the Arab Emirates are commonly rounded up to 25 fils;

- 10, 5 and 1 fils coins are officially in circulation, although they are rare. The 1 fils coin has already become a rarity. If you receive these coins as change, they may not be accepted in other stores afterwards. Take them as a souvenir from the UAE;

- In 2012-2014 the 25 fils, 50 fils and 1 dirham coins were minted from nickel plated steel, while previously they were from copper-nickel alloy. The old and new coins are slightly different in weight and size, don't be surprised by this;

- The value of the coins is written on the surface only in Indo-Arabic digits, there are no digits we are used to. It is easy to remember Indo-Arabic digits: 1 - stick, 5 - circle, 0 - dot, 2 - axe, 10 - stick and dot, 25 - axe and circle, 50 - circle and dot. The brief instruction is in the picture nearby;

- The value of the banknotes is written in Indo-Arabic digits on one side and the usual digits on the other. We advise always to turn the banknotes to the side with the usual digits when counting money. Always look at the digits, some banknotes have very similar color schemes;

- In the United Arab Emirates there is a concept of "tourist dirham". It is not money, but a special fee for tourists. In Abu Dhabi it is 15 UAE dirhams per room per day. In Dubai it is from 7 to 20 UAE dirhams for a room per night (depending on the number of stars the hotel has). Read more on our page "Tourist taxes in the UAE".

How and where to change money

By law, trade in the United Arab Emirates is allowed only in dirhams. In fact, many merchants and restaurants accept dollars, euros and pounds, but at bad rates. In order not to overpay, it is better to exchange your country's currency for dirhams.

Read our detailed review "Currency exchange in the Arab Emirates".



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How much money to take on vacation in the UAE

The UAE is one of the richest countries in the world. According to the rating of the World Bank (based on the results of 2021), the country ranks 8th in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita (69,958 USD per person). Despite this, the prices in stores, cafes and restaurants in the Arab Emirates are quite affordable. For some goods and services the prices are cheaper than in the UK or the US.

Read our review "How much money to take to the Arab Emirates".

The name "dirham"

The name "dirham" comes from the name of Greek money - "drachma". Drachmas coins were used throughout the Byzantine Empire, including in Palestine, from where the Greeks actively traded with the Arabs.

In the 7th century, the dirham became the currency of the Arab Caliphate and was widely spread from Spain in the west to Pakistan in the east. Treasures with dirhams are found even in Scandinavia. Afterwards, the name remained in many regions of the Ottoman Empire.

Nowadays two national currencies in the world are referred to by the word "dirham" - the UAE dirham and the Moroccan dirham. The name is used for junior units in Libya (1 Libyan dinar = 1 000 Libyan dirhams), Qatar (1 Qatari riyal = 100 Qatari dirhams) and Jordan (1 Jordanian dinar = 10 Jordanian dirhams).

History of money in the UAE shortly

Until the mid-20th century the "Maria Theresa's Thalers" and "Indian Rupees" were in use in what is now the UAE. At that time the Arabs of the Persian Gulf had no need to have their own monetary system.

In 1959, the British and Indians issued a special currency for the Persian Gulf "Gulf rupee", designed to streamline money circulation in the region. The Gulf rupee was equal to the Indian rupee. Even externally there was no difference, only the letter "Z" in the number distinguished the two bills. See photo near, click on photo to enlarge to full screen.

In the 1960s, the Indian rupee was in rapid recession. India's wars with China in 1962 and with Pakistan in 1965 led to the Indian budget shortage, and the rupee more than halved its value.

The Gulf states were not satisfied with this situation, and began to move to other currencies. The Emirates first tried the Saudi real, but later switched to the Qatar real and Dubai real (essentially the same currency, only with different names). The Emirate of Abu Dhabi switched to the Bahraini dinar.

In 1971, the emirates merged into one state, the United Arab Emirates. The new country needed its own currency. The currency "UAE dirham" was put into circulation on May 19, 1973, and it is used until today without any serious changes.

Since 1978, the exchange rate of UAE dirham has been attached to the international monetary unit Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In 1997, the UAE dirham was pegged to the U.S. dollar at the rate of 1 USD = 3.6725 AED.



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Coins of UAE dirham and fils

In 1973, 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 fils and 1 dirham coins were issued. Not much has changed since then, except that the 1, 5 and 10 fils are hardly ever in circulation anymore.

1 dirham

The obverse depicts a dallah coffee pot which is very popular in the Gulf countries. Making coffee in a dallah is a complex and culturally important ritual. Under the coffee pot you can see the year of mintage according to the Gregorian and Islamic calendars.

On the reverse, the denomination of the coin is written in Indo-Arab digit, the inscriptions "UNITED ARAB EMIRATES" and the name of the UAE in Arabic. We will not speak further about the reverses of the coins, they are of the same type.

Weight: 6.1 grams. Diameter: 24 mm. Material: nickel-plated steel. Shape - round.

Prior to 1989, the 1 dirham coin was similar in design, but weighed 11.3 grams and was 28.5 millimeters in diameter.

50 fils

The obverse depicts oil derricks - the main source of wealth in the UAE.

Weight: 4.4 g. Diameter: 21 mm. Material: nickel-plated steel. Shape - smoothed heptagon.

Before 1989, this coin was minted in round shape and was larger - 6.57 grams and 24.85 millimeters in diameter.

25 fils

On the obverse depicts a gazelle.

Weight: 3.48 gr. Diameter: 20 mm. Material: nickel-plated steel. Shape - round.

10 fils

On the obverse depicts a dhow boat.

Weight: 3 gr. Diameter: 18.5 mm. Material: bronze. Shape - round.

5 fils

On the obverse depicts a fish.

Weight: 2.2 gr. Diameter: 16.5 mm. Material: bronze. Shape - round.

1 fils

On the obverse depicts date palm trees.

Weight: 1.5 gr. Diameter: 15 mm. Material: bronze. Shape - round.



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UAE dirham banknotes

In the Arab Emirates, banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 dirhams are used. Another banknote of 1000 dirhams is very rare, it is designed more for interbank use.

All banknotes are protected by a watermark in the form of a falcon. Some banknotes are very similar in color, once again we urge readers to be careful. Always look at the numbers, not the color.

5 dirham banknote

This banknote is dedicated to the Emirate of Sharjah. The front side depicts Sharjah Central Market. The back side features the Imam Salem Al-Mutawa Mosque.

Size: 143 x 60 mm.

10 dirham banknote

The front side depicts the khanjar, the famous Arab dagger. The fact that the dagger is shown in a scabbard shows the peaceful nature of UAE politics. On the back is a date palm and a grove of trees.

Size: 147 x 62 mm.

20 dirham banknote

The front side features a yacht and the Dubai Creek Golf Club. On the back is a traditional dhow boat.

Size: 149 x 63 mm.

50 dirhams banknote

The front side features an image of an Oryx (an animal of the saber-rattled antelope family). The back side features the Al Jahili fort in the city of Al Ain.

Size: 151 x 64 mm.

100 dirhams banknote

This banknote is dedicated to the Emirate of Dubai. The front side depicts the Al Fahidi Fort in the Emirate of Dubai. The back side features the World Trade Center building in Dubai.

Size: 155 x 66mm.

200 dirham banknote

This banknote is dedicated to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The front side depicts the Sharia Courthouse and the Zayed Sport City Stadium. The back side depicts the Central Bank building at the Corniche Road.

Size: 157 x 67 mm.

500 dirhams banknote

The front side features a falcon. On the back is the building of Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai.

Size: 159 x 68 mm.

1000 dirhams banknote

The front side depicts Al-Hosn Fort, the former residence of the emirs of Abu Dhabi, now a museum. On the back are the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi along the Corniche Road.

Size: 163 x 70 mm.

Export of dirham coins and banknotes from the UAE

Coins and banknotes are allowed out of the country, there are only volume restrictions. Read more in our article "What is allowed and disallowed to take out of the UAE".

Commemorative coins

Commemorative coins have been issued in the United Arab Emirates since 1976. The first coin was released to mark the 5th anniversary of the founding of the UAE and was made of gold and weighed 20 grams. Since then more than 60 UAE Dirham coins have been released, most of them in gold and silver.

There are about 10 types of non-precious metal commemorative coins in free circulation in the UAE. It is quite difficult to meet them, if you are lucky, then keep such a coin as a souvenir. Particularly notable is the coin "I LOVE UAE", pictured on the right, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

The most famous coin commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first oil production in the UAE.

It is an interesting fact that the UAE Central Bank does not state what mintage it issues commemorative coins. Usually it is 250,000 copies. The cost of such coins on e-bay is from $2 to $10.

The last commemorative coin was issued in early 2020, dedicated to Expo 2020 in Dubai, a silver (40g) coin. And then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the Expo was moved to 2021. It was a funny situation - a coin commemorating Expo 2021 with Expo 2020 written on it.

Where tourists spend their dirhams?

- Read about how and where tourists spend their money in the UAE in our review "What to bring from the UAE - prices and how to choose the best";

- Why they spend with pleasure, read in the review "Shopping in the UAE - why is it cheap there?";

- To understand cost of living, read our review "Prices of food in the UAE".

We wish you a good experience with UAE money, and read our interesting and useful for tourists pages about this country (see list of the pages below).

TIPS

Tips for Tourists in the UAE

IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach

GENERAL INFORMATION

The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE

GIFTS AND CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud

MONEY AND EXPENSES

Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE

TRANSPORT

Dubai Metro - Fares and Map

Taxi in the UAE - Fares and Guide

NOL Transport Card Dubai

Dubai Tram

Dubai Monorail

Buses in the UAE

FROM AIRPORT TO CITY

From Dubai Airport (DXB) to City

From Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) to City

From Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) to City

From Sharjah Airport (SHJ) to City

TRIPS BETWEEN EMIRATES

From Dubai to Abu-Dhabi

Free Buses Dubai - Abu-Dhabi

From Sharjah to Dubai

From Ras Al-Khaimah to Dubai

From Ajman to Dubai

From Fujairah to Dubai

From Umm Al-Quwain to Dubai

TELECOM

Internet in the UAE

Cheap Calls from the UAE

Free SIM-card in Dubai

UAE Phone Codes

EMIRATES

Dubai

Deira

Bur Dubai

Dubai Marina

Jumeirah

Downtown

TOP Attractions in Dubai

Beaches in Dubai

Abu Dhabi

Al Ain

Yas Island

Beaches in Abu Dhabi

Sharjah

Beaches in Sharjah

Ajman

Ras Al Khaimah

Umm Al Quwain

Fujairah

ATTRACTIONS IN THE UAE

Best Attractions in the UAE

Free Attractions in the UAE

DUBAI

Burj Khalifa

Dubai Fountain

Excursions in Dubai

How to Save on Entertainment in Dubai

DUBAI MALL

The Best in Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium

Candylicious in Dubai Mall

Waterfall in Dubai Mall

DUBAI DEIRA

Gold Market in Dubai

Al Mamzar Beach and Park

Deira Clock Tower

City Centre Deira Mall

JUMEIRAH DISTRICT

Burj Al Arab

Wild Wadi Water Park

Jumeirah Mosque

Dubai Marina Mall

Madinat Jumeirah

Jumeirah Beach

PALM JUMEIRAH

Aquaventure

The Lost Chambers

Dolphin Bay

Palm Fountains

The View at the Palm

DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS

LEGOLAND

MOTIONGATE

LEGOLAND Water Park

BLUEWATERS ISLAND

Ain Dubai

Madame Tussauds

BUR DUBAI

The Dubai Frame

Dubai Dolphinarium

Al Fahidi Fort Museum

Museum of the Future

DUBAI - SOUTH-EAST

Global Village

Miracle Garden

Butterfly Garden

IMG Worlds of Adventure

MALL OF THE EMIRATES

Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai

ABU DHABI CITY

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace

Observation Deck at 300

Sheikh Zayed Memorial

Heritage Village

Corniche Waterfront

Sir Bani Yas

YAS ISLAND

Ferrari World

Formula Rossa

Galleria Ferrari

Warner Bros Park

Yas WaterWorld

Yas Marina & Formula 1

Yas Mall

SHARJAH

Sharjah Fountains

Sharjah Aquarium

Museum of Islamic Civilization

Al Noor Mosque

Mega Mall

AJMAN

Ajman Fish Market

Ajman Fort and Museum

City Centre Ajman Mall

UMM AL QUWAIN

DreamLand Water Park

NATIONAL CUISINE

Emirati Cuisine - What to Taste

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