Traveling to Dubai: Dubai Currency (UPDATED FOR 2019)
Traveling to Dubai: Dubai Currency
Traveling to a new country can be hard for many, with changes to the language, weather, culture, food and especially currency.
If you are traveling to Dubai you might not think of researching Dubai currency before you arrive, and it can save you a bunch of hassle once you arrive in the UAE. So many times I have arrived in a country, gone to get money out of an ATM and realized I have absolutely no idea what the currency or exchange rate is - what a pain in the butt!
The United Arab Emirates uses the UAE Dirham, commonly referred to as the "DH" or "Dhs". Luckily for me, as an American, the Dirham is pegged to the US dollar at an exchange rate of 3.67%. However, Europeans account for about 20% of all tourists visiting the UAE, mostly made up of British, French, Italian and Germany visitors. Currently, the Euro stands at an exchange rate of 1euro= 4.1AED and the UK pound is 1GBP=4.76AED.
There are 100 fils in a dirham and there are one, half and quarter coins. Notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. Something you might encounter is that change is rounded to the nearest coin, so if your total bill comes to AED4.15 you'll only need to pay AED4 and if the bill is AED40.75 you'll owe AED41. It seems slightly odd to some so keep this in mind when you are getting change at grocery stores and such.
Most taxis will have change for AED100, but try and have smaller bills whenever possible as few taxi drivers have change. Also, convert as many costs in Dubai as you can as you'll quickly spend much more money than you thought with food and drinks, especially alcohol, costing more than you'd imagine.
The single easiest place to exchange your currency is at the Dubai International Airport (DXB), with currency exchange services readily available which do not charge a commission, and many offer to buy back what you don't use upon leaving Dubai (but let's be honest, you'll spend it all!) ATM machines are available all over Dubai and your home country bank card should work with no problem, but make sure to check how much your bank charges for international fees as they can add up very quick without you realizing.
Also make sure to call your bank before you arrive in the UAE as many banks will put a temporary block on your card if they suddenly see international charges coming in, especially from the Middle East. If it makes you feel better to exchange money before traveling to Dubai there are many places, especially banks or your departure airport where this should be possible. the UAE dirham is not the most common currency but should be available at any large airport.
We hope this helps to avoid any confusion when traveling to Dubai and that you'll be a master of Dubai currency before you even arrive at the airport.
*TIP* If you love the outdoors, check out these 8 water sports in Dubai while you are here - no matter the time of year!