The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 49, November 27, 2011, Article 4


P. K. Saha forwarded this story about a new book on the coins of the United Arab Emirates. -Editor

Emirati Researcher and writer Mutaz Mohammed Osman narrates the journey of the country's currency in his book History of UAE Currency being displayed at the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair at Expo center.

Osman, who is also a collector of stamps and coins, traces the various currencies that were used in the UAE since the days of the Greek currency which was known as darkham 2500 years ago, followed by the Islamic currency, colonial currency, Indian rupee and finally the UAE dirham, named after darkham, that was introduced on May 19, 1973. He also talks about the rare coins in existence in the UAE such as coins used as compass to show directions and some coins resembling hairpins used for predicting luck. He highlights the traditional ways of making coins in the country.

Through the book, which is also used as a reference manual by the UAE Central Bank, the author is also narrating the heritage and history of each emirate. He said people in the UAE had used the Greek darkham during the era of Alexander the Great for a long period, until Islam entered the land of Oman and brought with it the Islamic coins made of gold and silver which later Arabised when King Khalifah Abdull Al Malik bin Marwan Umayyad replaced the Sasanian symbols and words with Arabic ones.

Then, Maria Theresa coins, which were known as French coins, but were originally Austrian, were worn by women for decoration. Later, Quwasim coins and Ottoman coins and then the Bargash paisa made by the Duke of Zanzibar, Bargash bin Saeed bin Sultan, were used in Oman and all Gulf countries.

The use of the British Indian rupee started in the age of King William IV during 1766-1837, followed by the second Indian rupee during the Victorian age, the third rupee during the rule of King Edward VII, the fourth rupee during the rule of King George V and the fifth rupee during the age of King George VI.

When India gained its independence on August 15, 1947, the new government replaced all symbols of the British colonisation in the currency with Indian ones. India allowed the UAE and the Gulf countries to use its rupee as the currency and the UAE continued to use the Indian rupee which was made by the East India Company. Rupee coins of seven denominations were used in the UAE, including Re1, half rupee, quarter rupee, one-and-a-half ana, half ana, quarter of ana, and half paisa.

Chintaman Dwarkanath Deshmukh, first governor of the Indian Reserve Bank, assigned the persons who would hold the post of Reserve Bank governor to put their signatures in the currency. The people of the UAE and the Gulf countries used the Indian currency for a long time of period. The Indian government allowed the UAE and other Gulf countries to make their own versions of the Indian rupee with different words and symbols but not the value.

In the course of time, the Indian government decided to reduce the value of the Gulf rupee which made the citizens in the region to lose a lot in their trade and the cost of living shot up. The Gulf countries, including the UAE, then decided to abandon the Indian rupee and started using the Saudi rial for a while and Abu Dhabi used Bahraini rial and Dubai and Qatar initiated a joint currency under the Qatar and Dubai Currency Council.

After the UAE Federation came into being, the dirham, which is the currency today, began to be used in the country from May 19, 1973. The book also displays images of all coins used in the country since the Greek era. Mutaz Mohammed Osman, who is considered the first one to trace the history of the coins in the UAE, wrote two books on the topic.

He said he has no plans of doing more research or write another book about the history and heritage of the country because his works have not been given importance by the Arab readers.

To read the complete article, see: (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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