Thursday 18, May 2017 by Georgina Enzer

UAE Dirham celebrates 44 years

The UAE dirham will complete its 44th year in circulation on 19 May in its unified form representing the seven emirates after undergoing several transformations.

The 1973 born banknotes began their journey in denominations of one, five, 10, 50 and 100, displaying the watermark of an Arabian horse – which was later changed to falcon, the national bird of UAE. The date also marks the formation of United Arab Emirates Currency Board which issued the new notes bearing various local environmental landmarks and geographical boundaries of the UAE. 

“The very first denominations were imprinted with landmarks that represented each emirate separately with the name of emirate on the bank note,” said Ram Kumar, Founder of Numisbing, a Dubai-based numismatics company, and President of International Bank Note Society, Dubai Chapter, “For example, AED 1 carried the picture of the Clock Tower and Police Fort in Sharjah, while the AED 5 note had Fujairah’s Old Fort on it. The AED 10 note showed an aerial view of Umm Al Quwain and the AED 50 note displayed the palace of HH Ruler of Ajman. The AED 100 was imprinted with a picture of Al Rams area in Ras Al Khaimah. Representations from Dubai and Abu Dhabi were introduced with AED 1,000 notes in 1976, which featured Al Jahilie Fort of Abu Dhabi and an old fort of Dubai.”  

In December 1980, when the UAE Currency Board was replaced by UAE Central Bank, the notes issued by Currency Board were slowly withdrawn from circulation. At the back of all the denominations, the names of the seven emirates were also removed and new notes with different designs and colours were introduced. 

“Today, the old notes are collectables and many locals and expats who have been living in the UAE for a longer time have preserved them as a part of the country's history. A used set of UAE first issue notes from AED 1 to AED 100 are available at different antique shops including Numisbing. Generally speaking, the prices begin at AED 1,500 and the starting price of first 1000 Dirhams note would be from AED 4,000.”


Prior to the introduction of UAE dirham, the region used several currencies including the Indian rupee, the Gulf rupee, the Qatari riyal, Dubai riyal and Bahraini dinar (used in Abu Dhabi) during different phases.

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