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UAE Currency…Deciphered for the Expat

What’s up family, friends, and followers…or should I say, “Assalamu Alaikum” (Peace be unto you). We have physically relocated to the wonderful country of the UAE (United Arab Emirates). Please see the map after this paragraph to see its locations. The country is beautiful country with the most awesome weather during the winter months. We haven’t posted in a while because we were gathering our barrings to be able share these things with you all. As there is a learning curve, once we find out new information, we will gladly share it for those that are also thinking of relocating to this wonderful country.



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.

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.


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.

1 Dirham
50 Fils
25 Fils

Rare Coins:Try to Keep Them 🙂

10 Fils
5 Fils
1 Fils


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.

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