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The Meanings of 12 Symbols on the UAE Currency

UAE currency

The UAE Currency Symbols and Their Meanings 

Every country in today’s civilized globe has its own distinct currency. It is a medium for trading commodities and services in the traditional sense. It’s worth noting, though, that different international currencies have a variety of symbols that have diverse meanings.

The official currency of UAE is Emirati Dirham, represented as AED formally. In Arabic, the currency is depicted as د.إ.  

Details about Dirham (AED)

Every UAE citizen knows that the Dirham coin has three denominations – 25 fils coin, 50 fils coin, and 1 Dirham coin. The backside of the coins, in all the three denominations, feature the words the “United Arab Emirates” in English, ‘”الامارات العربية المتحدة” in Arabic and the denomination numeric value. The front side of all the coins bears the minting year, both in Hijri and Gregorian calendars. Besides, the different denominations carry different kinds of symbols on the front or the obverse face.

The banknotes of AED are available in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 denominations. The front and the backside carry unique symbols.

The symbols range from commemorative events celebrating different periods and UAE rulers to abstract signs and figures. Here is a look at 12 such characters that one can commonly come across on the Emirati Dirham.

Meanings of 12 symbols on the UAE currency

  1. Oil rigs or derricks on the 50 Fils coin

It is no secret that UAE is the world’s largest provider of oil. About 10% of the world’s crude oil reserves are present here. Oil is crucial for UAE’s economy, contributing to about 30% of its GDP. The rigs on the 50 fils coin are an acknowledgment of this fact.

Three oil derricks on the coin signify the importance of oil to the country and a watershed moment in national history. Before oil became synonymous with UAE and the seven emirates came together to form the United Arab Emirates, the place was known for fishing and pearl diving industries. In 1958, things changed when oil was discovered, creating a historic moment for the Emirates. The symbol represents this milestone!

  1. Souk al-Markazi on AED 5 currency note

The Souk al-Markazi in Sharjah or the Central Market is famously known as the Blue Souk because of the exterior façade’s blue tiles. It is the primary shopping hotspot in Sharjah, encapsulating a traditional bazaar on the banks of Khalid Lagoon. The building was completed in 1978 under HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah. Two interconnected buildings, bridges, vaults, 20 wind towers covering about 80,000 sqm, and home to 600+ shops, there is everything under one roof.

Therefore, this iconic building has featured on the 5 AED note with the Imam Al-Mutawa Mosque on the reverse side.

  1. The Dallah on the 1 Dirham coin

Dallah is the Arabian coffee pot used by Bedouins for ages to prepare and serve coffee. The coffee preparation ritual is a traditional way of entertaining guests and showing hospitality in the Arabian Peninsula.

This traditional pot is present as a symbol on the 1 Dirham coin showcasing an essential aspect of the Emirati culture.

  1. The Khanjar on AED 10 currency note

The symbol of the Khanjar or Omani Dagger is printed on AED 10 currency note and is a part of the traditional costume. The Khanjar symbolizes pride and prestige for natives. The short J-curved sword, made from brass, copper, or precious metals like gold and silver, is also the national symbol of Oman.

The presence of the Khanjar on the 10 AED currency note is the way of respecting this traditional weapon. Even though the use of the Omani Dagger is not prevalent today, its symbolic significance of the UAE’s historical past is unmatched.

  1. Symbol of the Arabian Sand Gazelle on 25 Fils Coin

The Arabian Sand Gazelle is native to this part of the world. Most of the population can be found in the dunes of the Arabian Desert. Featuring the animal species on the AED 25 fils coin is symbolic as the species faces a threat and habitat degradation.

UAE Coin
  1. Symbol of Palm trees on AED 10 notes

UAE is home to 40 million date palm trees, of which 15 million are in Abu Dhabi alone. The species is a fundamental part of the daily living of UAE natives – the leaves of the tree are used for making handicrafts, the trunk for building homes, and the fruit is used as a food item. The date palm has contributed immensely to the sustenance of life in the UAE.

The symbol on the AED 10 note is a mark of respect to the tree with growing importance in the UAE economy.

  1. The dhow boat symbol on the 20 Dirham note

The dhow boat is the traditional boat of UAE used by natives to fish and pearl dive. It symbolizes the pre-oil period when fishing and free diving were the main professional pursuits. The use of the symbol is a reminder of the historic local occupation of Emiratis.

  1. Arabian Oryx symbol on AED 50 note

The antelope is the national animal of Oman. The Oryx, which is on the IUCN’s endangered list, went extinct in the wild in the 1970s but was reintroduced in the 1980s.

The white Oryx finds its place on the 50 Dirham note as it is the national animal of the UAE. It also marks UAE’s persistent efforts in driving wildlife conservation.

  1. The Al Fahidi Fort on the AED 100 currency note

Dubai Fort is an iconic structure built in 1787 as the residential grounds for the monarch; Later, the premises were used as a prison for outlaws and a home for artillery and weapons. In 1971, the fort was opened to the general public as an official museum. It is one of the most popular historical places in Dubai. The place bears testimony of the old Dubai with innumerable drawings, diagrams, rare and antique monuments, weapons, etc., housed inside.

The fort of defense is printed on AED 100 note as a mark of respect to this significant Dubai landmark.

  1. The building of the Central Bank of UAE on AED 200 note

The Central Bank of UAE is the leading financial body of UAE ensuring monetary stability and resilience of the financial system. Its depiction on the 200 Dirham note is appropriate in the context of its role in the country’s economic growth.

  1. Symbol of the Falcon on the AED 500 note

Falconry is a sporting activity practiced in the UAE for thousands of years. It bears a proud linkage to the Emirati heritage of traditional sports. The action denotes key Arabian values of honor, courage, and nobility. The art of falconry also shows the love for conservation and respect for animals.

No doubt, the falcon finds a place on one of the higher denominations of the Dirham.

  1. Qasr Al-Hosn on the 1000 Dirham note

The Qasr Al-Hosn is an iconic stone building in UAE built-in 1761 in Abu Dhabi. The White Fort or the Old Fort was a watchtower built to defend the freshwater of Abu Dhabi. Much later, in 1793, the fort became the official residence of the rulers. Its symbolic presence on the 1000 Dirham note is the best way to respect its historic significance.

Summing up

These are the twelve symbols one can find on UAE Dirham, showcasing the Emirates’ diverse heritage and cultural aspects. Evidently, it is fascinating that these symbols exemplify UAE’s evolution from being a small fishing town to becoming an influential Arab country.