The legal tender in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the UAE dirham, Emirati dirham, or Emirates dirham. The ISO 4217 code for dirhams is AED. You can also find it in its abbreviated form as Dhs or simply DH. The UAE dirham is divided into 100 fils.
As of the date of this post update (June 14, 2023), the equivalence of the dirham currency with respect to the euro is:
- 1 euro = 3.97 AED dirhams
- 1 dirham = 0.36 euros
The currency of Dubai and 6 other emirates
The United Arab Emirates (Dawlat Al-Imārāt al-‘Arabīya al-Muttaḥida) is a country in the Middle East located on the Arabian Peninsula.
It has a population of about 9.5 million and is made up of a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sarjah and Umm al-Qaywayn.
The UAE borders Oman to the southeast, the Persian Gulf to the north, and Saudi Arabia to the south and west. Here is a map of the Emirates where you can see the location of the seven United Arab Emirates.
The main wealth-generating activity in the Emirates is oil. This places the country at number 30 in the world by GDP.
The name Dirham is attributed to the word of Greek origin Drachmae, which means “handful” or “abundance”. And curiously, this is the same name adopted by the Moroccan currency (Moroccan dirham), although with a different last name.
History of the UAE dirham
Settlements in the Arabian region are documented as early as the Bronze Age. Later, in the seventh century AD. Islam arrived and during the 16th century, the territory fell under the influence of the European colonial powers due to its strategic importance between Europe and the East. Eventually the territory fell under British rule and influence.
Following the end of the UK protectorate in December 1971, six sheikhs formed the union of their emirates by signing the 1971 Constitution, which was joined by Ras al-Khaimah a few months later. After their union, each emirate retains considerable political, judicial, and economic autonomy from the others. But the currency used by the 7 emirates is common, the United Arab Emirates dirham.
The UAE dirham was introduced as the country’s legal currency in 1973, replacing the Qatari riyal, which since 1966 had been in circulation in all the emirates of the Persian Gulf, except for the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where the dirham was replaced for Bahraini dinars.
Before that year, the Gulf rupee was the common currency of all the emirates. Both Dubai and Qatar were using the Saudi riyal during the transition from the Gulf rupee to the Qatari riyal.
In accordance with the Special Drawing Rights of the International Monetary Fund, the value of the UAE dirham was fixed in 1978, although in reality it is fixed to the US dollar. The exchange rate established since 1997 is approximately 1 US dollar = 3.6725 UAE dirhams.
As curiosities about the dirham, it should be noted that in 2006 a massive fraud was detected in which the Philippine pesos, similar in size to the dirhams but with a much lower value (a Philippine peso is equivalent to eight fils instead of 100 fils), were being used illegally inside the country in vending machines.
Similar frauds were also detected involving the one Moroccan dirham, 5 Pakistani rupee and Australian 10 cent coins.
Furthermore, the first design of the dirham notes was made in London, which was then transferred to the Abu Dhabi National Bank for printing.
UAE dirham coins
In 1973, coins of 1 UAE dirham and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 fils were minted. Those of 10, 5 and 1 fils were minted in bronze, while the rest of the coins were minted in the copper and nickel alloy called cupronickel. Fractional coins had the same composition and the same size as the Qatari riyal.
The 10, 5 and 1 fils coins and the 1 UAE dirham were reduced in 1995. The 50 fils, apart from reducing its size, also began to be minted in a heptagonal shape.
Since 1976, various commemorative coins have been minted representing kings and sheikhs of the UAE and celebrating different events. Their diameters range from 15 to 27 mm. and its weight between 1.5 and 7.6 grams.
The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE Central Bank) is the state institution responsible for monetary management and policy in the Emirates as well as banking supervision. It was established on May 19, 1973 under the name “United Arab Emirates Currency Board”.
On its website you can see a section dedicated to dirham notes and coins.
UAE dirham banknotes
The UAE Monetary Council introduced in 1973 notes of 1,000, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 dirhams. In 1982 a new series of paper money was introduced that eliminated the 1,000 and 1 dirham notes.
A year later, 500 dirham notes were put into circulation, and in 1989, 200 dirham notes. With the beginning of the millennium, the 1,000 dirham notes were introduced again.
The banknotes present western numbers and texts in English on their reverses, while their obverses present Arabic texts and numbers.
In 2021 and 2022, a new series of polymer banknotes (images that we present below) has been launched for the 5, 10 and 50 dirham notes, which coexists with the previous 2014-2015 series.
These are the current denominations on the different banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 AED.
5 UAE dirham banknote
Its predominant color is orange/pink. Its equivalent value in euros in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023, would be 1.14 euros.
10 UAE dirham banknote
Its predominant color is green. It would be equivalent to about 2.30 euros in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023.
20 UAE dirham banknote
Its predominant color is blue and there are two versions similar in design and patterns in force, the one from 1997 and the one from 2015.
Its exchange value is about 5.2 euros in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023.50 UAE dirham banknote
50 UAE dirham banknote
Predominantly purple in color, it would be equivalent to about 11.40 euros in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023.
100 UAE dirham banknote
Its color is pink, its year of edition 2015 and its exchange value in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023, of about 22.80 euros.
200 UAE dirham banknote
It is a green and brown banknote and there are series from 1989, 2004 and 2016. Its value would be equivalent to about 45 euros in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023.
500 UAE dirham banknote
It is predominantly blue and today it would be equivalent to about 114 euros to change in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023.
1,000 UAE dirham banknote
In green and blue tones, there are series from 1976, 1998 and 2015. Here is the latest version:
Its value would be approximately 228 euros in currency suppliers in Portugal, in June 2023.
Euro to UAE dirham exchange rate today
As of today (June 14, 2023) the euro currency has an exchange value of 3.97 dirhams per euro and one UAE dirham is exchanged for 0.36 euros.
As you can see, the change in recent years has fluctuated between 3.6 and 4.5 dirhams per euro. But keep in mind that this graph represents the value of the UAE dirham “currency” against the euro, and not the lower real paper currency (the banknotes we tourists use when we travel).
In fact, in currency suppliers in Portugal you can buy dirhams at an exchange rate of around 3.63 AED for each euro (2.69 AED per euro at any Portuguese airport). Nothing to do with the euro to dirham currency exchange on the graph.
So, when you see these values in Google and other currency converters with your mobile, keep this in mind:
-This is an unofficial rate, and therefore unreliable. In other words, if you click on the “Disclaimer” link, you get this warning from Google Finance: “Google cannot guarantee the accuracy of the exchange rates displayed. Please confirm current rates before making a transaction that may be affected by changes in exchange rates.”
-These rates that you see on your mobile while performing a Google search are usually wholesale prices of the dirham currency against the euro currency (currency and paper currency are not the same);
-This rate can only be obtained by banks among themselves (interbank market), that is, it is impossible to obtain it as an individual.
If you need dirhams in banknotes, you will have to go through the banknote retail market (bank or currency supplier). This market means that the AEDs have had to be “transported” by someone for you to enjoy them (or purchased from travelers from the Emirates, previously passing through Portugal). In other words, moving banknotes from one place to another has logistical costs that will make their sale price more expensive (the exchange rate that will be applied by whoever sells them to you).
The dirham is not a very abundant currency/currency in Portugal. For this reason it is not easy to find it available for sale in currency suppliers. So it is good to anticipate the purchase and order them online to obtain a better rate.
Where to exchange UAE dirhams for euros
The 3 most popular places to exchange dirhams (AED) in Portugal are banks, currency suppliers and the airport.
Of them, the least recommended place to buy or sell is the airport and any business that charges you a commission in addition to an “exchange margin” (difference between the price for which you paid the currency and the price for which it is sold to you).
In other words, practically the banks and some ecurrency suppliers, if you change in person without first going through their website to make an online money reservation, will charge you between 2.5 and Additional 3% commission when you exchange with them.
Therefore, the best idea if you want to exchange euros for UAE dirhams is to use our currency comparator, whether you are going to buy dirhams (EUR-AED) or if you want to exchange dirhams for euros (AED-EUR).