The local currency is the uae dirham (AED or DHS), which is divided into 100 fils and is pegged against the USD $ (USD $ 1: AED 3.6725).
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Foreign currencies and travelers’ cheques can be exchanged in licensed exchange offices, banks and hotels, and a passport is required. Personal cheques can be a bit trickier, and many places won’t accept them. If shopping in the souks (markets) or in smaller shops, cash is the best option.
A well-structured and expansive network of local and international banks, strictly controlled by the uae central bank, offers a full range of commercial and personal services. Transfers can be made easily as there is no exchange control and the dirham is freely convertible. Banking hours are generally Saturday to Thursday, 8am to 1pm (some banks also keep later hours). Some banks have small branches based in malls, which are open in the evening.
Most banks operate ATMs, which accept a range of cards. Most ATMs, although linked to a specific bank, are part of a central network, so you can transact with a bank card for a nominal charge. Common systems accepted around Abu Dhabi include American Express, cirrus, global access, MasterCard, plus system and visa. ATMs can be found in all shopping malls, major supermarkets, most petrol stations and the airport. For international cards, the exchange rates used in transactions are normally competitive and the process is faster and far less hassle than using traditional travelers’ cheques.
Bureau de change offices are all over Abu Dhabi and often offer better rates than the banks. You’ll find them in all major malls and popular shopping districts. They are usually open Saturday to Thursday, from 8am to 1pm and 4.30pm to 8.30pm, and on Friday evenings. Many hotels will also exchange money and travelers’ cheques at standard (non-competitive) rates.