The currency in Dubai is called the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED), dirham for short. The currency consists of paper notes and coins, which are called fils. 100 fils = 1 AED. Since 1997 the dirham has been pegged to the US dollar. 1 US dollar=3.67 dirhams.
Until 1966 the Indian rupee was used as currency in Dubai. However, in 1966 India devalued the rupee, and therefore Dubai briefly adopted the Saudi riyal. Shortly after adopting the Saudi riyal, Qatar and Dubai began using their own currency called the Qatar and Dubai riyal. The Qatar and Dubai riyal was in circulation from 1966-1973.
On May 19th, 1973 the dirham was first introduced as the currency in the UAE. In 1973, there were 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 fils coins. There was also a 1-dirham coin in circulation. The text on the coins is in Arabic. The numbers are in Arabic numerals.
The 1, 5, and 10 fils coins are not in wide circulation, so therefore most amounts are rounded up to the nearest multiple of 25 fils.
The UAE Currency Board introduced notes of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 dirhams on May 20th 1973. On January 3rd 1976 the 1000-dirham note was introduced. A second printing of notes was introduced in 1982, which did not include the 1 and 1000 dirham notes. In 1983, a 500-dirham note was introduced into the currency. Then in 1989 the 200-dirham note was introduced. In the year 2000, the 1000-dirham note was reintroduced to the currency. Currently you can get banknotes in the following denominations:
- 5 (brown)
- 10 (green)
- 20 (light blue)
- 50 (purple)
- 100 (pink)
- 200 (yellow/brown or sometimes the older ones are green/brown)
- 500 (navy blue)
- 1000 (greenish blue)
The obverse texts on the notes are in Arabic. The reverse texts are written in English and the numbers are in Arabic numerals.
Best currency to take to Dubai
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted across Dubai. However, it is a good idea to carry some dirhams with you at any given time. Carrying around the lower dirham notes (5, 10, 20 50 and 100) are good for the daily transactions you will have to do.
Where to get dirhams
You can choose to convert your cash in your home country into dirhams. Usually if you do this ahead of time at your local bank you will save a little money. If you want to take out dirhams in Dubai you have two options: from ATMs or currency exchange shops.
ATMs are spread throughout Dubai and offer dirham notes. Be aware, there is usually a withdrawal fee when using a foreign debit card.