Currency Exchange: Dirham and Dollar in 2023

1:32 pm  |  07.10.2023

After gaining independence, the United Arab Emirates introduced a single-state currency – the dirham. At the international level, the name of the currency is usually abbreviated to AED. The abbreviations DH and DHS also exist. One hundred fils is worth one dirham.

History of Currency

Since 1966, the Gulf rupee has been the official currency in the United Arab Emirates. After the rupee, the Saudi rial was widespread, later it was replaced by the Qatari-Dubai rial. However, this currency did not work in Abu Dhabi; Bahraini dinars were used there. In the 1970s, after the formation of an independent state, the United Arab Emirates declared the official state currency.

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The name of the Emirati currency comes from a word belonging to the Greeks, translated as “handful”; in the original language it sounds like “drachma”.

With the introduction of dirhams, the production of bronze coins was explored. Bronze was used to produce coins in denominations of 1, 5, and 10 fils. Coins of 25, 50, and 1 dirham were produced from a copper-nickel alloy. The fils’ sizes and compositions are similar to Qatari-Dubai dirhams.

Fifty fils

In the mid-90s, the fifty fils coin was made a little smaller, and it also became curved, and equilateral. The same fate awaited the one dirham coin. However, very rarely in monetary circulation, you can find coins of denominations of 1, 5, or 10 fils. Arabs prefer to round up the amount to 25 fils.

Interesting fact! The fifty fils and one dirham coins are very similar.

The Central Bank of the UAE produced several batches of coins for various holidays of the country or ruler. This has been happening since 1976.

Fraudulent Transactions

About 16 years ago during the summer, rumors circulated in Dubai that Philippine coins and dirhams were the same size. Fraudsters began to take advantage of this news. They used Philippine coins (1 peso was worth 8 fils at the time) to make purchases from the entertainment center’s vending machine.

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In addition, coins in Australia with a value of ten cents, coins in Pakistan with a value of 5 rupees, Omani coins with a value of 50 bais, and the dirham in Morocco have the same shape and size as the Arab dirham.

Banknotes were introduced in the UAE in 1973. Then banknotes for 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 dirhams, as well as 1000 were introduced. Later, after 9 years, several batches of dirhams were issued, but banknotes of 1 and 1000 dirhams were excluded from production. A year later, a 500 dirham banknote was introduced, and a few years later, 200 dirham bills appeared. Today, the most popular and in demand are bills of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 dirhams.

The bills have English text on one side and Arabic numerals for the numbers. Before 2008, there were a few 200 dirham notes, so the authorities decided to issue several more batches. Also, these batches had a different design, changing the yellow-brown color to green-brown.

How to Change Money 

It is advisable to exchange your currency for dirhams before your vacation since they are the official currency in the United Arab Emirates. According to the law, all trading transactions must be carried out using dirhams only. Of course, in many shops and restaurants, you can pay in euros or dollars, but it is better to change money so as not to overpay huge amounts.

It is most profitable to travel to the UAE with dollars, as they are approximately the same value as the dirham. If you decide to change money in Dubai, then we advise you to follow the following rules.

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It is most profitable to exchange dollars for dirhams if the purchase rate of dirhams exceeds $3.6; in other cases, it is better to either refrain from exchanging or withdraw money only for urgent expenses.

Where can you change currency:

  • Airport. You can find an exchange office at almost every airport, but the exchange rate there is extremely unfavorable for tourists. At the airport, you can exchange money for the most urgent and necessary expenses. For example, it is customary to pay for a taxi ride in dirhams. You can negotiate with the taxi driver, but often they charge too much. You can also get into the metro using a ticket, which can only be purchased with dirhams.
  • Banks. It is more profitable to change money at a bank than at the airport. However, this takes a lot of effort and nerves. When exchanging, you will need to provide documents. Banks are only open on weekdays until 2 p.m. Friday is a day off in the United Arab Emirates.
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