Money & Tipping

Are we happy tipping a taxi driver but not a cleaner, or vice versa? Here's some of the ways to deal with tipping (your money remember) in Dubai.

Updated 11-December-2014  

To tip or not to tip that is THE question!

Now, understandably, we get terribly confused in this neck of the woods. Check out any hotel receipt and you will see a Service Charge. This means a NO to tipping but this is up to you. The service charge is a mandatory charge in hotel restaurants.

The little corner diners, or even the big ones, you come across which are not connected to a hotel, cannot do this so for these places it’s a YES to tipping. Of course, this depends on the service and what you think you should leave. It’s the same for coffee shops and other places that are not run by a hotel. We leave about 10% of the bill when we want to tip in these lovely little eateries but it’s up to yoohoo!

Now, taxis! You can tip as little or as much as you want – there are no known rules.

Hairdressers/maids/cleaners/gardeners/delivery men etc. Again, this is entirely up to you – don’t feel you have to although we have known some people wait for you to ‘go the extra mile’ but honestly why would you? Obviously, if they’ve been fantastic and done exactly what you want, e.g. delivered at the right time or cut the grass (or your hair) to near perfection then you might want to say a big THANK YOU in the form of a dirham or two (or if one of these fabulous workers were writing this you’d find the words ‘or more’ after the word ‘two’!!)

Any tipping tales to tell?

Tourism Dirhams

This is the title for a fee charged to Dubai visitors who either stay holiday accommodation or will stay in holiday accommodation (this includes holiday apartments and hotels).

The fee varies between AED 7 and AED 20 per night depending on the number of stars the hotel/holiday apartments has.  Your views are valuable – please send any comments to us.


The local currency – United Arab Dirhams – is written in a few ways: AED, Dhs.

The Dirham is pegged to the US Dollar and usually calculated at around AED 3.67. There have been murmurs about removing the peg but so far it has only been rumours!

The coins in distribution and commonly used as at today’s date are:

25 fils (100 fils make 1 Dirham)
50 fils
1 Dirham

and the notes:

5 Dirhams
10 Dirhams
20 Dirhams
50 Dirhams
100 Dirhams
200 Dirhams
500 Dirhams
1000 Dirhams

Just be careful with the AED 500 and AED 1000 – they don’t look too different.

The English version is on one side and the Arabic on the other. It’s good to know your numbers!

Don’t accept notes which are badly torn or which have been torn and repaired. Don’t accept notes or coins you do not recognise. It’s perfectly acceptable to say no.

Short – Short Changes

This is a gripe for some people. Nearly all cashiers ask you for change – every time you’re at the check-out. ‘Do you have change’ or ‘Do you have 1 Dirham’. It’s not until after you realise you’ve been fleeced. And maybe it’s only a few fils but either way if you add these few fils up you will see that the shop is making a lot of money by doing absolutely nothing.

We’re going shopping this week and we’ll show you exactly what we mean!

Listen up! We’d love to send you the report – for free – just email us at quoting: Free Money Report (obviously it’s not free money!)

Shops – Pricing

We’ve never understood why one shop can charge a lot less or a lot more than the other. We’re going undercover to check out the prices of some food and beverage items and we’ll let you know what we find out!

Listen up! We’re mesmerised by facts – you will be too. For a free report on food and beverage prices please email us at quoting: Free Food & Drink Report.

Your stories are always of interest – send one at any time.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice.

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