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Dubai Currency

Middle-East : Dubai : Life in Dubai : Dubai Finance

Many of you already know that the currency used in Dubai is called Emirati Dirham. The Dirham and the Dinar are the most frequently used types of currencies all over the Arabic world. The Emirati Dirham is not a weak currency, as one USD equals four Emirati Dirham, abbreviated as AED or DH.


It is interesting to note, that until the Sixties’ the national currency of Dubai was the Indian Rupee. Unbelievable but true! The number and effect of India on The United Arab Emirates had been high a long time ago as we can see. That is why some old residents of Dubai still call the Dirham as "Rupee".

The banknotes of Dirham are printed by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates. One of their sides is printed in English, the other one in Arabic. The banknotes of the United Arab Emirates Dirham are printed in France and in the UK. Interestingly in many of the bigger shops in Dubai, the shops accept also payments in USD, EUR or GBP referring to the British Pound.


Talking about exchange, you can exchange money in any of the Dubai banks or in any of the certified exchange offices. Shopping malls also have at least one exchange office open at the same time as shops open and close in Dubai. However, always take care to go to an accredited exchange office or bank and always take care of how much you get, even count it and see the papers, in order to avoid any bad situation later on.


The most popular offices, on which many say they are exchanging the best rates even, are the Al Ansari and the Al Rostamami the latter being part of Thomas Cook travel agencies.


Let us talk about how the banknotes of Dubai look like exactly:

  • 5 Dirham - brown
  • 10 Dirham - green
  • 20 Dirham - turquoise
  • 50 Dirham - purple
  • 100 Dirham - red
  • 200 Dirham - orange (older ones are brown)
  • 500 Dirham - blue
  • 1000 Dirham - brown (larger than the 5 dh note)
  • As for the coins, they use fills, out of which, you will see the 25, 50 and 1-dirham coins the most commonly.


Naturally, the latter two types (500 and 1000 Dirham banknotes) will be the ones you will see the most rarely. There have been problems with the similar colours of the 5, the 200 and the 1000 Dirham banknotes. For these reasons, the 1000 Dirham note is larger for and the colour of the 200 Dirham banknote has been changed to orange.

Apart from these types of banknotes, there is something called "Chicklets" which they would give or attempt to give you as return, but try not to accept, as afterwards you cannot be able to do anything with them. They are frequently given at petrol stations and small shops or supermarkets. The Chicklets are not official money.

Some interesting facts:

  • There was a plan some years ago, that the six GCC or Gulf countries, namely UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, would issue a common currency and this process would end by 2010. But Oman decided to say no to this plan in 2006 and eventually also the Emirates pulled out as soon as they realised that the centre of the GCC Bank, which would have been the responsible for the whole operation, would be headquartered in Saudi Arabia, and not in the area of the United Arab Emirates. So now, this whole plan is put on hold ever since, although there are hope to make it happen by 2015.
  • Since 1998 there are some very worthy commemorative coins issued by the Central Bank of Dubai. Some years ago, they issued 2500-dirham coins made out of the best gold.


That is the story including some basic and interesting information on the currency of Dubai. If you would like to know more about the Dubai currency, visit the Dubai Municipality Museum open every weekdays except Friday.