Not long ago, I was researching an article for free things to do in Abu Dhabi and I came across the UAE currency museum right here in Abu Dhabi. I’d never heard of it before, and there didn’t seem to be much written about it so of course, curiosity piqued, I had to go along and investigate for myself!

Located inside the UAE Central Bank in Al Bateen, the museum is completely free to enter, although owing to its location inside what is a fully working mint and central bank for the country, you’ll need to call ahead to make an appointment in order to get past security.

The museum curator comes to reception to collect guests and take them along to the museum. And after a brief description of what’s inside, you’ll be left to wander around at your leisure.

I have to say, on first glance it appears to be quite a stuffy and staid exhibition, but on closer inspection it actually holds rather a lot of interesting tidbits about the history of currency in the country from the other international currencies having been used in the years before the union to the eventual development of a local currency unique to the UAE in 1973 that we now know as the dirham.

As well as an impressive collection of historical coins and notes, other displays I found interesting were seeing sheets of money after printing and before they are cut for distribution and some surprisingly intricate detail on the tactics employed within the current currency to prevent forgery!

Unless you’re a collector with a specific interest, I don’t think the museum should take longer than around 30 minutes to visit. But it is a visit that satisfied my inner geek and I was pleased I’d made the effort. I came away feeling I knew more about the history of the UAE than before, and from a quite different angle than is normally seen.

The museum is open on weekdays, Sun-Thurs from 9am to 3pm. To arrange a visit to the museum, contact Mariam Ghalloum at the Central Bank on 02 691 5265.