UAE Currency Exchange Guide

Located in the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world, as well as a rich culture and history. Visitors can explore desert oases, go sandboarding in the dunes, or take a camel ride through the Abu Dhabi desert. In Dubai, you can visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, or enjoy a traditional Arabic meal in one of the city’s many restaurants. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that the UAE is fast becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

General UAE Currency Information

What is the currency of the UAE?

The official currency in UAE is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED).

What do United Arab Emirates notes & coins look like?

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The United Arab Emirates has some of the most unique and beautiful currencies in the world. The currency notes are brightly coloured and feature a variety of landscapes and cultural scenes. The coins are also quite distinctive, with each denomination featuring a different design.

With the UAE’s first introduction of polymer banknotes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country’s foundation, the United Arab Emirates dirham is now one of the most technologically advanced currencies in the world. Design-wise, UAE banknotes feature various themes related to the country’s culture, history, and natural landscapes. The new Dhs 5, 10, and 50 notes from the latest Series 3 feature the image of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the UAE.

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As for the UAE coins, denominations include 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 fils and 1 dirham. The obverse side of all coins features various representations of the national emblem of the UAE, while the reverse side features the denominational value.

Economy

The UAE is a strategic hub and business centre, with many free trade zones and a booming economy. As of 2020, the UAE’s GDP was $359 billion. This reflects the country’s rich oil reserves–the UAE has 10% of the world’s total oil reserves–and its 5th largest natural gas reserves.

Around 30% of the GDP in the UAE is directly attributable to oil exports, making it a crucial economic factor. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as a significant energy consumer in addition to its long-standing role as a primary energy supplier. The country will carry on its long history of responsible energy stewardship as it diversifies its economy, speeds up the discovery of new hydrocarbon deposits, and aids in creating and implementing renewable energy technologies.

Brief currency history

Dated back to the 19th of May 1973, when the dirham was introduced by the UAE Currency Board to replace the Qatari and Dubai riyal, the currency has a long and storied past. As of 1966, the riyal was legal tender in every Emirate except Abu Dabi. Qatar and Dubai utilised the riyal as their currency during the exchange period from the Indian rupee.

To mark the introduction of the UAE dirham into circulation, coins with face values of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 fils and 1 dirham were produced. The 1 fils, 5 fils, and 10 fils coins were made in bronze, while the rest were struck in cupronickel. The fil coins were identical in weight and composition to the riyal. The size of coins worth 1, 5, and 10 fils and 1 dirham was lowered in 1995. Size-wise, the new 1 Emirati dirham coin was identical to the previous 50 fils denomination. The new 50-fils coin is smaller and heptagonal in shape as well.

Both the 1 and 1000 dirham banknotes were replaced by new series of notes in 1973 and 1982, respectively. In 1983, the 500-dirham note entered circulation, and in 1989, the 200-dirham note joined it. In 2000, 1000-dirham notes were reissued.

Now, new Series 3 notes (issued in 2021) are currently in circulation. These banknotes feature the image of Sheikh Zayed, the first President of the UAE. The obverse side of each note also includes a watermark of Sheikh Zayed’s portrait as well as an embossed print of his signature.

Taking Travel Money to the United Arab Emirates

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What currency should I take to the United Arab Emirates?

If you’re travelling to the United Arab Emirates, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollar (AUD) for the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED) before you leave. Read more in our AUD to AED currency exchange guide.

Is it cheaper to convert currency in Australia or the United Arab Emirates?

Buying UAE dirhams in Australia is generally cheaper than buying them in the United Arab Emirates. You’ll likely get a better exchange rate and won’t be charged commission fees if you buy your travel money from an Australian bank or foreign exchange specialist ahead of time. Plus, you’ll see exactly how many dirhams you’re getting for your Australian dollars, so there won’t be any surprises when you arrive in the UAE.

How much can I take to the United Arab Emirates?

In accordance with worldwide standards and criteria, you must declare all cash or other financial instruments amounting to over AED 100,000 when arriving at or leaving the UAE. Under AED 100,000, there are no restrictions on how much cash you can carry.

Where to convert currency?

When buying AED in Australia, you can exchange your currency at any Crown Currency Exchange boutiques across Australia. For nearly 20 years, we have offered great exchange rates with no commission or fees to Australian travellers. You can also buy and sell over 80 foreign currencies at Crown Currency Exchange, so it’s the perfect place to buy all your travel money.

Is tipping customary in the United Arab Emirates? How much is expected?

Tipping is not compulsory in the United Arab Emirates, but it is always appreciated by taxi drivers, waitstaff and hotel porters. Although there is no standard percentage, a general guide is to leave 10-15% of the bill as a tip. Let the quality of service be your guide when deciding how much to leave as a tip.

Can you bargain in the United Arab Emirates?

Haggling is one of the great joys of shopping in the United Arab Emirates, especially at markets and souks (traditional Arabic markets). When bargaining, it’s important to remain friendly and polite, as haggling is all part of the fun. Start by offering around half the asking price and see where the seller takes it from.

What is ATM access like in the United Arab Emirates?

Similar to Australia, ATMs are widely available in the United Arab Emirates, and you’ll find them at most shopping centres, airports and hotels. There are also foreign banks with ATMs in the UAE, such as HSBC, CitiBank and UBS. Be aware that you may be charged a fee for an international ATM, so it’s always best to check with your bank before leaving.

What should you budget per day?

Since the United Arab Emirates consists of seven emirates, namely Abu Dhabi, Umm Al-Quwain, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman Fujairah, and Sharjah, costs can vary greatly from one emirate to another. So here’s a breakdown of the suggested budget when travelling to UAE.

Budget

Low-budget spenders can expect to spend around AED250-350 (AUD $105-146) per day. This budget will cover the cost of accommodation in a hostel or budget hotel, basic meals and snacks, local transport and some attractions, such as Zabeel Park, The Dubai Fountain and Jumeirah Mosque.

Moderate

For a more comfortable trip, you can expect to spend around AED600-800 (AUD $252-336) per day. This budget will cover the cost of a mid-range hotel room, most meals, including some restaurant dining, taxis or hired cars for transportation and some activities, such as a desert safari or a dhow cruise.

Luxury

Fancy a luxurious trip? Then you can expect to spend around AED1,500 (AUD $628) or more per day. This budget will cover the cost of a high-end hotel room, meals at upscale restaurants, private transportation and VIP tickets to attractions such as the Burj Khalifa or the Dubai Aquarium.

Keep in mind that these are just estimates, and your actual daily spending will depend on your individual travel style.

Currency details

Currency:

United Arab Emirates dirham

Currency code:

AED

Currency symbol:

د.إ; (Arabic)

Central bank:

Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates

Nickname:NoneCurrency sub-unit:

File = 1/100

Bank notes:

5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 dirhams

Coins:

1, 5, 10, 25, 50 fils. 1 dirham

Must-do's while you are in the United Arab Emirates

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1. Visit the Burj Khalifa in Dubai

The Burj Khalifa is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, and it is well worth a visit if you find yourself in Dubai. At 828m tall, it is the tallest building in the world, and its observation deck offers stunning views of the city below. Even if you’re not a fan of heights, the Burj Khalifa is worth a visit for its unique architecture and design. And if you are looking for a chance to get your heart racing, you can take a ride on the thrilling high-speed elevator that whisks visitors up to the top of the tower in just 60 seconds. Whether you’re looking to take in sweeping views or simply admire some world-class engineering, a trip to the Burj Khalifa should be high on your list when visiting Dubai.

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2. See the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque should be at the top of your list of places to see while in Abu Dhabi. The largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates is an architectural masterpiece, with 82 white marble domes, 24-carat gold chandeliers, and the world’s largest handmade carpet. Whether you are looking for a place to pray or simply marvel at the stunning architecture, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must-see while in Abu Dhabi.

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3. Go shopping in Dubai

Dubai is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for a good reason. This cosmopolitan city offers incredible shopping opportunities, from traditional markets to modern malls. You can find just about anything in Dubai, from high-end designer labels to locally made traditional crafts. And with tax-free shopping, you can save even more money on your purchases. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs or the latest fashion trends, Dubai is the perfect place to go shopping. So take advantage of everything this city has to offer and go shopping in Dubai while you’re in the United Arab Emirates. You won’t regret it!

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4. Take a desert safari

A desert safari is one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences you can have while visiting the United Arab Emirates. From the moment you set off into the dunes, you will feel like you are in another world. The endlessly shifting sand provides a challenge for even the most experienced driver, and the ever-changing landscape is unlike anything else on earth. As you speed across the desert, you will be surrounded by nothing but sand and sky. And when you finally stop for a break, you will be able to enjoy the silence and serenity of this otherworldly place. Whether you are looking for an adventure or simply want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, a desert safari is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.

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5. Relax at Jumeirah Beach

Located in the city of Dubai, it offers visitors a chance to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea in a luxury setting. The beach is well-known for its beautiful white sand and clear blue waters, which make it a perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. In addition, Jumeirah Beach is home to several upscale hotels and resorts, as well as restaurants and cafes. As a result, it is easy to find everything you need for a perfect day at the beach. Whether you want to relax on the sand or dip in the ocean, Jumeirah Beach is sure to provide an enjoyable experience.

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