Money & Costs in Dubai Travel
Dubai is a dazzling city that attracts millions of visitors every year with its stunning skyline, luxurious hotels, world-class shopping and entertainment, and rich cultural heritage. But before you pack your bags and hop on a plane, you might want to know how to manage your money and budget for your trip. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about the currency in Dubai, the best places to exchange money, the costs and prices of various items and services, and some tips to save money and avoid hidden fees.
Jump to the Secttion
- Currency in Dubai
- Exchange Money in Dubai
- Costs and Prices in Dubai
- Tips to Save Money and Avoid Hidden Fees in Dubai
The official currency of Dubai is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED), which is abbreviated to Dhs or DH. One dirham contains 100 fils. Dirham notes are available in denominations of 5 (brown), 10 (green), 20 (blue/green) 50 (purple), 100 (red), 200 (brown), 500 (navy blue) and 1000 (green/blue) dirhams. You’ll generally only see 1 dirham, 50 fils and 25 fils coins in circulation, with most stores rounding up to the nearest 25 fils.
The dirham has been pegged to the US dollar since 1997, meaning the exchange rate never changes. It is 1 dollar to 3.6725 dirhams. As most of the world’s currencies aren’t pegged to the dollar, you should expect to see daily fluctuations when trading in anything other than U.S. dollars.
You can check the current exchange rate of your currency to the dirham using an online currency converter when you are going to Dubai.
You have several options to exchange your money in Dubai, such as:
- Airport: You can exchange your money at the airport, but be aware that the rates are usually not very favorable and there may be additional fees or commissions. You can find currency exchange offices at both terminals of Dubai International Airport (DXB) and at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC).
- Banks: You can exchange your money at any bank in Dubai, but you may need to show your passport and wait in line. Banks are generally open Saturday–Thursday, 8 a.m.–1 p.m. (closed Fridays), but some branches may have longer hours or be open on Fridays.
- Money exchange counters: You can find money exchange counters in many shopping malls, hotels, metro stations and tourist areas in Dubai. They usually offer better rates than banks and airports, but you should still shop around and compare different providers. Some of the most popular and reputable money exchange companies in Dubai are Travelex, Al Ansari Exchange, Al Fardan Exchange and UAE Exchange.
- ATMs: You can withdraw cash from ATMs using your debit or credit card, but you may incur fees from both your bank and the local ATM provider. You should also check if your card has a foreign transaction fee or a currency conversion fee. Some banks may have partnerships with local banks in Dubai that allow you to withdraw cash for free or at a reduced fee. For example, HSBC customers can use HSBC ATMs in Dubai without paying any charges.
Dubai is known for being an expensive city, but it also offers a range of options for different budgets. Here are some examples of the costs and prices of various items and services in Dubai:
- Accommodation: You can find accommodation for as low as 50 Dhs per night for a hostel bed or as high as 5000 Dhs per night for a luxury hotel suite. The average price for a hotel room is around 400 Dhs per night.
- Food: You can find food for as low as 10 Dhs for a street snack or as high as 500 Dhs for a fine dining experience. The average price for a meal at a mid-range restaurant is around 60 Dhs per person.
- Transportation: You can find transportation for as low as 3 Dhs for a metro ride or as high as 250 Dhs for a taxi ride from one end of the city to another. The average price for a taxi ride within the city is around 20 Dhs.
- Attractions: You can find attractions for as low as free for some museums and parks or as high as 500 Dhs for some theme parks and tours. The average price for a ticket to a popular attraction is around 100 Dhs per person.
Although Dubai is not a budget friendly destination for tourists, we also have some tips to help you save money and avoid hidden fees in Dubai:
► Use public transportation: Dubai has a modern and efficient public transportation system that includes metro, tram, bus, water bus and taxi. You can use a Nol card to pay for your fares, which is cheaper and more convenient than paying cash. You can also use the RTA app to plan your routes and check the timetables.
► Book in advance: Dubai is a popular destination, especially during peak seasons and events. You can save money and avoid disappointment by booking your accommodation, flights, attractions and tours in advance. You can also look for deals and discounts online or through apps like Groupon or Cobone.
► Eat like a local: Dubai has a diverse and delicious cuisine that reflects its multicultural population. You can save money and enjoy authentic food by eating at local restaurants, cafes and street stalls. You can also buy groceries at supermarkets or local markets and cook your own meals if you have access to a kitchen.
► Choose your alcohol wisely: Alcohol is expensive and heavily taxed in Dubai, as it is only available at licensed hotels, bars and clubs. You can save money by drinking during happy hours, buying duty-free alcohol at the airport, or avoiding alcohol altogether. You should also be aware of the laws and customs regarding alcohol consumption in Dubai, as it is illegal to drink in public or be intoxicated in public.