The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven states on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It consists of the following emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Al-Sharjah, Um al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah, and Fujairah. A sheikh governs each individual emirate. The sheikhs form the Federal Supreme Council, with one sheikh serving as the President of the United Arab Emirates.  

Burj Al Arab Building | Source: Pixabay

Introduction of United Arab Emirates Dirham

The United Arab Emirates was officially formed in 1971, with Abu Dhabi City becoming the country’s capital. The United Arab Emirates Currency Board was established on May 19, 1973, under the Union Law No. 2 of 1973. The currency board introduced the dirham in the same year, replacing the Qatar and Dubai riyal at par and the Bahrain dinar at a rate of 10:1. The riyal and dinar continued to circulate in the UAE until August and November 1973.  

UAE 1 Dirham | 1973 | P-1s | Source: Banknote World Educational

The dirham is the national currency of the United Arab Emirates. One dirham is equivalent to 100 fils. The Emirati dirham is commonly abbreviated to DH or Dhs and the international code for the United Arab Emirates Currency is AED. The Emirati dirham is pegged to the US dollar. It is also one of the world’s most stable currencies.  

UAE Central Bank Building | Source:

The United Arab Emirates Central Bank currently has issuing authority over the Emirati Dirham money. The Central Bank took over the duties of the United Arab Emirates Currency Board in 1980 under Union Law No. 10.  

The Central Bank has issued a consistent banknote design since 1980. It issues banknotes in the following denominations: 5 dirhams, 10 dirhams, 20 dirhams, 50 dirhams, 100 dirhams, 200 dirhams, 500 dirhams, and 1,000 dirhams.  

UAE 50 Dirhams | 1982 ND | P-9 | Source: Banknote World

Security Features

Each series has the same basic elements, but with more enhanced security features added as banknote security technology has advanced throughout the years. There have also been updates with some design elements, including the coat of arms and the bilingual notes with both dating systems (Gregorian and Hijiri).  

UAE 10 Dirhams Banknote | 2009 | Source: Banknote World

For instance, the 2008 series updated the coat of arms on the note following the adoption of a new coat of arms in March 2008. Another update was the inclusion of tactile printing in the 2014 series to aid the visually impaired.  

UAE 1,000 Dirhams | 2017 | P-33e | Source: Banknote World

Generally, the Emirati dirham features the coat of arms and different cultural vignettes, including animals that have cultural significance to UAE, in front and landmarks from each emirate and a Saker falcon at the back. The Saker falcon has also been a constant feature on Emirati dirham watermarks.  

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