Sunday, August 23, 2015

Travel through Philately - The First Currency of United Arab Emirates (Emirates Post)

I have wanted to add some Middle Eastern first day covers into my collection but had been reluctant to pay a premium in eBay for it. Fortunately Emirates Post manned one of the booths in Singapore 2015 World Stamp Exhibition, and I got myself a few remaining ones. One of those sets depicted the first set of United Arab Emirate's (UAE) currency - the UAE dirham.

UAE'S first set of banknotes, featuring AED 1, AED 5, AED 10, AED 50, AED 100 and AED 1000.

UAE's first set of coins, featuring 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 fils, and 1 dirham.

Upon their independence in 1971 from the British, Abu Dhabi and Dubai formed a coalition for defense and protection purposes. 5 other emirates were invited into the coalition in 2 December 1971 - Qatar and Bahrain declined, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain accepted. With Ras al-Khaimah joining at a later date, the 7 emirates formed a union which is now known as United Arab Emirates, or just simply The Emirates.

In the early days of the formation, Bahraini dinar and Qatar and Dubai riyal were in circulation and used as a main currency. UAE Currency Board, the banking supervisory and monetary authority, was formed in 19 May 1973 with the mandate to replace the dinars and riyals with a national currency.

19 May 1973 saw the first issuance of an Emirati currency - the UAE dirham, which would later be assigned the currency abbreviation of "AED" by ISO 4217. The Emirati dirham replaced the then circulating currency at the rate of 1 dirham to 1 riyal and 1 dirham to 10 dinar.

Coin of 1 dirham, which also features as the cancellation design of this issue (image from  Universal Postal Union).

The largest circulating dirham is the 1000 dirham banknote (image taken from Universal Postal Union).

The coins that were first introduced were struck from two different types of material - the 1, 5 and 10 fils from bronze, and the higher denominations from cupro-nickel. It could be difficult for non-Arabic readers to use their coins as the values are in Eastern Arabic numerals and Arabic texts. Coins of denomination 1, 5 and 10 fils are rarely used and most transactions are rounded to the nearest multiples of 25 fils. Emirati coins saw little changes since their introduction, with the current circulation being only the 2nd series with little differences.

Its banknotes consist of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 dirham during its introduction in 1973, while the 1000 dirham was later added into circulation in 1976. Eastern Arabic numerals lined the obverse side while the reverse contains English texts and Arabic numerals, making the banknotes more friendly to non-Arabic readers. During the introduction of a subsequent series, the dirham notes of 1 and 1000 were omitted although the latter was reissued. Currently the circulating notes consist of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 dirham.

Date of Issue:         7 December 2014
Denominations:      150 Fils, AED 1 (banknotes); AED1, AED 2, AED 3, AED 4 (coins)
Stamp Size:            30 mm x 50 mm (banknotes); diameter 40mm (coins)
Perforation:            11 x 11 (banknotes); 13 x 13 (coins)
Paper:                     unspecified
Printing Process:    Combination of offset, embossing, simili gold foil and pms silver
Printer:                   Cartor Security Printers, France
Designer:                Emirates Post Group


  1. Wikipedia - United Arab Emirates dirham
  2. Emirates Philatelic Association
  3. Universal Postal Union (UPU)


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