Dubai: Whether you ask for your spare change or not, shops and tellers must give you your right change.

According to top officials at the Consumer Protection Department at the UAE's Ministry of Economy, retailers who don't provide the correct change are breaking UAE law and can be prosecuted.

This legal reality is in stark contrast to the findings of a poll of more than 3,700 people at


Despite the federal law which makes not giving the right change back illegal, 20 per cent of respondents said they ask for their change back — but never get it.

What's even more startling, however, is that nearly 40 per cent of respondents told Gulf News that they didn't even know small coins exist. Under UAE currency laws, the coin denominations are 1 fils, 5 fils, 10 fils and the commonly circulated 25 fils, 50 fils and Dh1 tokens.

In 2005, UAE Central Bank officials ordered enough coins to be manufactured at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to last to the end of 2010. But it seems we're not aware the small coins are supposedly available and legally in circulation. There are so few small coins in use that, according to the Gulf News online poll, one-in-three of us are actually embarrassed to ask for what's legally ours. The 33 per cent figure is in contrast to the 9 per cent of us who answered that they don't like to carry small change around with us.

Gulf News has reported that when some consumers asked for their small change, they were offered bubble gum in some supermarkets instead.

According to UAE law, bubble gum isn't legal tender — only the coins and notes approved by the Central Bank are.

Banking officials told Gulf News small coins are readily available to be ordered by retailers.

In case of violations, UAE officials at the Ministry of Economy are urging consumers to lodge a complaint via the hotline 600522225.