The UAE dirham celebrates its birthday

The UAE dirham will complete its 44th year on May 19.

The banknotes began their journey in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 from May 19, 1973, displaying the watermark of an Arabian horse, which was later changed to falcon, the country’s national bird.

The date also marks the formation of UAE 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, Numisbing.

Initially, AED1 had the picture of the Clock Tower and Police Fort in Sharjah, while AED5 notes had Fujairah’s Old Fort on them.

The AED10 note showed an aerial view of Umm Al Quwain while the AED50 note displayed the palace of Ajman ruler. AED100 notes were imprinted with a picture of Al Rams area in Ras Al Khaimah.

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Representations from Dubai and Abu Dhabi were introduced with AED1,000 notes in 1976, featuring 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In December 1980, when the UAE currency board was replaced by UAE Central Bank, the old notes were slowly withdrawn from circulation.

“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,” said Kumar.

The old AED1 to AED100 notes currently sell for AED1,500, while price for AED1,000 note starts at AED4,000, Kumar said.

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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