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Where can I use the United Arab Emirates Dirham?

You can use the United Arab Emirates Dirham in the following Emirate states:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Dubai
  • Sharjah
  • Ajan
  • Umm Al-Quwain
  • Fujairah
  • Ras Al Khaimah

How much spending money do I need for United Arab Emirates?

Many think of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a luxury travel destination – especially its crowning jewel, the capital city Dubai. But not everyone who lives in the UAE is rich! Depending on your lifestyle, the cost of living can actually be lower than London. Despite being the UAE’s most expensive city, in Dubai you’ll find tons of free tourist activities, from visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to exploring the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary – and across the states, limiting your intake of alcohol, coffee and luxury goods will keep your costs very reasonable.  

Product / service


Cost in GBP

Bottle of water

1.50 د.إ


Local coffee

18 د.إ


Imported beer

45 د.إ


Big Mac

28 د.إ


3-course meal for two

200 د.إ


Budget your United Arab Emirates trip

The seven Emirate states (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajan, Umm Al-Quwain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah) are incredible places to explore. Together they are a series of contrasts, where deserts meet coastlines and urban opulence meets nomadic culture.

In Dubai you’ll be able to experience some of the finest luxury in the world, from dining at Nobu or the Cavalli Club to staying at the world’s only 7-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab. Those with more modest budgets can still benefit from the luxury: just walking through the Dubai Mall can be a mind-boggling experience, or gazing at the skyline from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Many of the Emirates offer incredible adrenalin-pumping activities. Ras Al Khaimah is home to the UAE’s highest mountain, the Jebel Jais – and the world’s longest zipline of the same name, which launches you across the desert landscape at speeds up to 90 miler per hour. Off the coasts of Fujairah or Dubai, you’ll be able to try your hand at parasailing, jetskiing, flyboarding and more.

But it’s worth planning cultural experiences at a slower pace too, and the UAE has a rich history to explore. On the waters of Ajman you can learn about the 7,000 year old pearl diving industry, and how the success of trading pearls with the Roman Empire led to the founding of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, taking a traditional wooden Abra boats across the Dubai Creek or over the Khaled Lagoon in Sharjah offers unbeatable views, especially at sunset.

Low budget

Medium budget

High budget

Overall budget (per day):

205 د.إ 


Overall budget (per day):

730 د.إ


Overall budget (per day):

3420 د.إ


Food, drink and accommodation in budget:

  • Dorm bed in hostel: 33 د. إ
  • Bottled water: 2.40 د. إ
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner from markets / local restaurants: 80 د. إ
  • Two local beers: 90 د.إ

Food, drink and accommodation in budget:

  • Hotel room: 140 د.إ
  • Two bottled waters: 4.75 د.إ
  • Breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner at Western restaurants: 163 د.إ
  • Two local beers: 90 د.إ

Food, drink and accommodation in budget:

  • Upscale hotel room: 950 د.إ
  • Two bottled waters: 4.75 د.إ
  • Breakfast, two coffees, lunch and dinner at upmarket restaurants: 450 د.إ
  • Bottle of wine, two cocktails: 220 د.إ

Activities in budget:

  • Visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: free
  • Visit to the Al Jahili Fort: free
  • Entry to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary: free
  • Entry to the Camel Museum: free

Activities in budget:

  • Visit Burj Khalifa (off-peak ticket): 149 د.إ
  • Dubai speedboat tour: 145 د.إ
  • Entry to Dubai Miracle Garden: 40 د.إ

Activities in budget:

  • Visit Burj Khalifa (on-peak, queue-jump ticket): 323 د.إ
  • Dubai hot air balloon ride: 1230 د.إ
  • Desert camel ride: 240 د.إ

What denominations does the United Arab Emirates Dirham come in?

The United Arab Emirates Dirham comes in the following denominations:


5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 dirhams


1 dirham; 25 and 50 fils

United Arab Emirates Dirham FAQs

What currency is AED?

AED is the official abbreviation for the Emirati Dirham, the currency of the United Arab Emirates. Unofficial abbreviations are DH and Dhs. The currency symbol is د.إ

What sort of currency is the Emirati Dirham?

The Emirati Dirham is a cash and card-based currency used in United Arab Emirates. Banknotes come in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in 1 د.إ (dirham) and 50 فلس (fils, the dirham subunit) pieces.

Can I use US dollars in the UAE?

US Dollars are accepted by the majority of businesses in the UAE, especially in Westernised areas. The AED is pegged to the dollar, meaning that local currency exchanges give the best rates to customers converting Dollars to Dirham.

Do I need cash or card in the UAE?

Payment in the UAE operates almost entirely on card. Major international cards are accepted at by the majority of larger retailers but market vendors, grocery shops and smaller stores won’t tend to. Carrying some cash is recommended as a backup, and is a much easier way to tip when you receive good service. Plus, if you choose to pay on card in your home currency, you may be charged unseen fees.

Should you use an ATM in the UAE?

ATMs are common in the UAE, and accept major international cards along with most foreign debit cards. You can also withdraw cash at banks and currency exchanges, but to make sure you receive the best rates we recommend making your exchange in advance of your trip.

What language do they speak in the UAE?

The UAE’s official language is Arabic, which is the most widely-spoken across all Emirati countries. English is also spoken by the majority of the population in urban areas, and is the lingua franca of service industries.

Is the UAE safe?

Crime rates are extremely low in the UAE, although travellers are advised to keep an eye on their wallet and phone, as minor pickpocketing is relatively common. However, the UAE nations have strict cultural laws around conduct, dress and behaviour, which tourists need to be wary of. Drinking alcohol in public, being intimate in public, criticising the state either in person or on social media, have all led to imprisonment previously. Researching these before your trip is strongly recommended.

How do you travel around the UAE?

Short-haul flights are the most efficient and most popular way to travel between the UAE countries, but within each state, metred taxis are very reasonable and convenient.

Do you need a visa for the UAE?

British citizens do not need a visa in advance of travel to the UAE, but they will be issued one upon their arrival.

How much should you tip in the UAE?

Tipping is common in the UAE (especially Dubai), when you have received good service, but not compulsory. The bill at most restaurants will include a service charge, but tips are usually made on top of this, at about 15-15% of the total. Other service industry providers, such as supermarket staff, will also be grateful for a tip. Be aware that tipping officials can be seen as bribery, which is strictly prohibited.

Leftover United Arab Emirates Dirham?

We’ll buy back leftover United Arab Emirates Dirham at excellent exchange rates, leaving you with more cash in your pocket (and a tidier desk drawer).

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