UAE currency: Dh1,000 bill is one of the highest-value banknotes

From forts to flora and fauna, the design of the UAE's currency has evolved over the years

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The UAE’s currency was introduced on May 20, 1973, a little over two years after the country was formed.

Prior to the dirham, the rupee and dinar were used, as was the Maria Theresa thaler – a silver bullion coin in circulation since 1741.

In this weekly series, The National breaks down the historical and cultural significance of the designs of each of the dirham denominations.


Many will never have seen or held a Dh1,000 note, the history of which is equally elusive.

The highest-value banknote in the UAE, it was a part of the first issue in 1973 but was dropped from circulation in 1982 before reappearing in 1998.

It comes into its own for large cash transactions. Worth US$272, it is one of the highest-value banknotes in the world, although falls somewhat short of Brunei’s B$10,000 note, exchanged at astonishing US$7,440. Try offering that to a taxi driver.

The original Dh1,000 issue was printed in blue with a design on the English side featuring two views of Al Ain’s Al Jahili fort, one incorporating a minaret. The note would disappear for 16 years, by which time Al Jahili had moved over to the Dh50.

The returning Dh1,000 note came with a new look that incorporated complex shades of brown and green, part of anti-forgery measures.

The English-language face is a view of the Abu Dhabi skyline as seen from the waters off the Corniche.

The Arabic face shows the distinctive north-east tower of Qasr Al Hosn, also known as Burj Al Hamam, or Tower of Pigeons, because of the birds once kept there.

For those keeping count, forts or palaces have appeared on seven UAE banknotes since 1973, more than any other subject.

The inspiration for the design of the UAE’s currency

Updated: July 01, 2021, 4:00 AM