UAE currency: Dh20 note combines old and new face of Dubai

Design of the Dh20 note is unchanged since it was first issued in 1998

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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, dinar and even the Maria Theresa silver thaler were used.

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


The new kid on the block, the Dh20 made its first appearance on December 6, 1998, as part of the celebrations to mark National Day and the presidency of Sheikh Zayed.

It filled the gap between the Dh10 and Dh50, although even today it is less likely to be found in general circulation than either of the other two.

The design has not changed since that first issue. Printed in shades of blue, the Arabic side features the spectacular sweeping roof of the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club building, which had opened five years earlier.

The sail-inspired architecture of the club is echoed on the English language face, which shows a dhow under way with its triangular lanteen rig billowing in a fresh breeze.

The trading dhow – a generic term for Arab sailing vessels – is a Gulf type known as Al Sama’a. Together the Dh20 note elegantly combines the old and new face of the Emirate.

The inspiration behind the design of the UAE's currency