The United Arab Emirates dirham is the legal tender of the country and was introduced on 19th May 1973, replacing the Qatar riyal. The dirham is subdivided intro 100 fils.
Origins and history
The history of the currency dates back to 19th May 1973, when it replaced the Qatar riyal. The Qatar riyal had circulated in all the Emirates except Abu Dabi since 1966. During the transition from the rupee to the Qatar riyal, both Qatar and Dubai used the latter currency.
The year the dirham was put into circulation, the following denominations of coins were minted: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 fils and 1 dirham. The 1, 5 and 10 fils coins were produced in bronze and the rest of them in cupronickel. The size and composition of the fils coins were the same as that of the corresponding Qatar riyal. In 1995 the size of 1, 5 and 10 fils and also of 1 dirham coins was reduced. The new 1 dirham coin had exactly the same diameter as the old 50 fils coin. The new 50 fils coin was also reduced in size and given the heptagonal shape.
The first series of banknotes was issued in 1973 and the second one in 1982 replacing the denominations of 1 and 1.000 dirham. 500 dirham notes were introduced in 1983, followed by 200 dirham in 1989. 1000 dirham notes were reintroduced in 2000.
On 28th January 1978, the dirham was pegged to the International Monetary Fund special drawing rights, but in practice it is set to US dollar.
The authority in charge of minting coins and issuing banknotes is the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.
Interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates dirham
- The name Dirham derives from the Greek word “drachmae”, literally meaning “handful”. Due to centuries of old trade and usage of the currency, dirham survived through the Ottoman Empire.
- By August 2006 it became publicly known that the Philippine 1 peso coin was the same size as 1 dirham. This has led to vending machine fraud in the country. The same happened with the Pakistani 5 rupee coin, the Omani 50 Baisa coin and the Moroccan 1 dirham that are also the same size as the 1 dirham coin.
- Since 1976, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates has minted several commemorative coins celebrating different events and rulers of the United Arab Emirates.