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Exhibition of old stamps aims at attracting youngsters to hobby.

Byline: Emmanuelle Landais, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Sending mail, in a stamped addressed envelope, has become a quirky communication method in a world where emailing, social networking sites and even phone messaging offers the simplicity of giving friends and relatives a quick update at the touch of a button.

But stamps are not dead, and stamp-collecting is not yet threatened by new technology, although new young members could give the Emirates Philatelic Association a boost, said Abdullah Al Khoury, president of the association.

The UAE celebrated 100 years of its postal services this week, commemorating the first post office which opened in 1909 in Dubai. An exhibition of some of the rarest and oldest stamps collected by EPA members is being showcased at the Arabian Centre mall until August 25, including one of the oldest stamps, the Penny Black dating back to 1840, owned by EPA's youngest member, Nasser Bin Ahmad Al Sarkal, 16.

"He is one of the few younger serious collectors in the association," said Al Khoury. "But the aim of the exhibition is to attract more young people."

The EPA was established in 1996 and has more than 200 established philatelists.

Al Khoury believes stamps will be around for a long time despite the popularity and simplicity of the internet.

"You can't send products by the internet. Mail will always be there. It has always been there since people have sought to communicate with each other," he said.

Stamps are full of information that track history, geography, culture, economy, and inflation, he added. In 1909, the cost of sending a letter within the UAE would have cost half an "anna" which was the currency unit formerly used in India, equal to 1/16 of a rupee, he said.

"Today it is Dh1 so in 100 years the cost is 32 times higher."

Abu Dhabi's postal history is divided into the British, Independent, and UAE postal administration. In 1959, an arrangement to provide a mail service for the several hundred oil company employees on Das Island was made and later in 1963, the emirate's first post office was established on the island.

According to research from Khalid Ali Omeira, a board member of EPA, Dubai's recorded postal history begins on August 19, 1909, when an Indian Branch Post Office was opened.

The opening of the Dubai post office was the result of pressure over a number of years from the trading communities in Dubai and Karachi. King Edward VII stamps of India were placed on sale in Dubai and during the year 1911, King George V stamps of India came into use.

Now as Emirates Post there are 102 post offices around the country. Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, and Ajman opened independent post offices in November 1963.

Ras Al Khaimah post office was opened in December 1964.

Before the opening of the first post office in Sharjah, mail was sent either through Dubai or a Royal Air Force base post office near Sharjah's old airport. Have your say Do you collect stamps? What is the oldest stamp you own? Do you still send letters through post? Why? Tell us at or fill in the comments form below.


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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Aug 22, 2009
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