Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: The next time you toss a dirham into your pocket, think twice about what you can buy with it. Many residents still remember the days when parking meters charged Dh1 an hour, and 100 fils could buy some chocolate, chips and a drink.

Now, with living costs on the rise, discussions on inflation and high rents are common — and a dirham is nothing but loose change.

While it might not seem like a lot of money, a dirham is still enough to buy some people’s favourite items. From a boat ride to a cup of tea, residents talked to Gulf News about their favourite one-dirham purchases.


Sharjah resident 20-year-old Mohammad Tareq Basiouny said he’ll never get too old to buy his favorite one-dirham pack of chips.

“Buying a pack of Chips Oman from the grocery store is still the best one dirham item.” Witnessing the gradual increase of prices over the years, Baisouny recalled his childhood days when a coin was enough to buy a handful of goodies from any grocery store.

“Before, you could buy chips, candy and fizzy drink for a dirham — now, one of the coolest things you can still do for a dirham would be to cross the Dubai Creek on the abra,” Basiouny said.

Green seeds

University student Omar Sharif, from Egypt, said a pack of green seeds has remained his favourite one-dirham snack over the years. He pointed out that most items that used to cost a dirham are now either double the price or more.

“Even the price of a can of Pepsi or cola is now one and a half dirhams but a pack of green seeds is still the same.”

Born in Dubai and raised in Sharjah, Khalid Mohammad Abdul Rahman from Tanzania said iced lollipops were his favourite one-dirham item growing up. “When I was younger, I used to love buying frozen lollipops for a dirham, now a bottle of water and a pack of chips would probably be the most common one-dirham items I buy,” said Abdul Rahman.

Pen, ice cream

A pen is Mohammad Rowaizak’s favourite one-dirham item. The 19 year-old from Egypt who is studying architecture said that doodling on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil helps him when he’s brainstorming and designing. “When I was young, a bar of Twix was my favourite one-dirham purchase, now, using a pen or pencil keeps me thinking,” he said.

Syrian student Yazan Kashlan said a McDonald’s ice-cream cone is his favourite one-dirham purchase. “When I was younger, I loved buying Capri Sonne juice, which cost a dirham, Now with very little options of one-dirham items, I enjoy the small ice cream cones from McDonald’s,” he said.

Bottled water

The price of a bottle of water should not be more than one dirham, Tamara Al Gunaid from Yemen told Gulf News. “I buy a bottle of water on a daily basis, it is a necessity so the price should not increase over time,” she said. As a child, Tamara said she often bought gum and bouncy balls from slot machines with her pocket money.

Thread bracelets from Satwa are Menna Al Khalil’s favourite one-dirham items. “They come in different colours and shapes, and they’re great one-dirham buys,” said the 20 year-old Sharjah resident. Menna also said she enjoys a one dirham cup of karak tea after her university classes several times a week.

“A one-dirham bottle of water is a life saver in this heat for me and my baby,” said Anum Tarik from Pakistan. The 25-year-old Abu Dhabi resident pointed out that while growing up, she used to buy a small carton of juice and packet of biscuits for one dirham at school, but the new generation will not share the same experience. “Everything now is over three dirhams and pocket money is no longer in coins.”

Sour punks, cucumbers

Multi-coloured tubes of sour candy are Nisreen Sayed’s weakness. Still in love with candy, the 21-year-old Afghan-American said her favourite one-dirham item is ‘sour punks’. “I have been buying sour punks at any local grocery stores for years — they’re still a dirham and are my favourite.”

Sarah Al Shammari, a Kuwaiti-American English teacher living in Dubai, said she enjoys buying a different kind of fruit every day before starting her classes - which usually cost her one dirham.

“I love how affordable fresh fruits and vegetables are in Dubai. You can buy three to four locally sourced cucumbers for just one dirham.”