A growing number of banks and a rising demand for the dirham paved the way for the creation of the Central Bank.
A law that came into effect on December 10, 1980, boosted the powers of the regulatory Currency Board and changed its name to the Central Bank.
Since then the institution, based in Abu Dhabi, has grown in step with rapid expansion of the financial system and wider economy.
Assets of the Central Bank have swollen from Dh9.8 billion (US$2.66bn) at the end of December 1980 to Dh273.5bn in June this year.
From maintaining the stability of the financial system to supervising banks and controlling its own sizeable assets invested around the world, the Central Bank's mandate is wide.
It also operates a unit that battles money laundering and acts as a financial watchdog. The regulator is the first port of call for customers who are unhappy with their bank.
Its multitude of roles today are in contrast to the sole task of the old Currency Board of issuing a national currency.
The Currency Board was created on May 19, 1973, the same day the dirham was put into circulation.
Within weeks, the dirham had replaced the Bahraini dinar and the Qatari and Dubai rials as the currency for doing business in the UAE.
* Tom Arnold