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Travel & Tourism

Know the Dirham

Dubai Dirham
Credit: Flickr / David Loong/ CC BY-SA 2.0

For every international traveller travelling to Dubai or the United Arab Emirates at large, should have a know-how about the Dubai currency and its denominations. The current currency exchange rates and the converter are available on websites recommended by the Dubai Government Website.


The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the Dirham, also unofficially abbreviated as DH or Dhs, whilst official is AED. The fils which is a subdivision of the currency in many Arab countries is also used by UAE whereby 100 fils = one dirham. In the world market, the UAE currency is denoted as AED or Arab Emirate Dirham, although the Dubai currency symbol is displayed as AED and Dhs in many places. The value of Dirham in the global market is regularised by the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Right. Pronounced as dir-ham, available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000. The coins are available in fils of Dh1, 50, 25, 10 and 5 fils, but 10 and 5 fils are rarely used. Though the value of the denomination mentioned on the currency note is in Eastern Arabic Numerals and text in Arabic, it is easy to remember. However, the reverse side has text in English with Eastern Arabic Numerals.


Foreign currency of any country and denomination is readily accepted and exchanged in the UAE. The dirham is pegged to the dollar and official exchange rate currently is Dh3.671 for the US $1.00. Travellers who want to exchange foreign currency for dirhams could approach private money changers located in the souks and the shopping centres, who provide the best exchange rate. The UAE Exchange Centre collaboration with the Western Union also has branches throughout the UAE. 

History of UAE Dirham:

The UAE introduced the first dirham in December 1971, replacing the Qatar and Dubai riyal at par. Before the introduction of the UAE dirham, the Qatar ad Dubai Riyal was widely used in all emirates except in Abu Dhabi which had started using the dirham in place of the Bahraini dinar. Prior to 1966, all Emirates used the Gulf rupee as the currency for financial transactions. The dirham was officially linked to the IMF's Special Drawing Rights since January 28, 1978. Since November 1997, the Central Bank of the UAE has maintained a fixed exchange rate of the dirham against the U.S. dollar to 1 U.S. dollar = 3.6725 dirhams. This ensures free convertibility of the national currency to foreign currencies. However, other currencies such as euro, pound are not fixed to the dollar and their rates with the dirham fluctuate.

The name dirham was derived from the Greek word "Drachmae" meaning 'handful' in Latin.

Bank working hours are Saturday - Wednesday from 8 am to 1 pm and Thursday 8 am to midday. Banks with branches in shopping malls are open for a longer period. Banks are closed on Fridays.

Travellers who visit Dubai frequently can avail fantastic discounts if they book hotels in Dubai city.

1 comment

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