Shaikh Ahmad Bin Nayan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan at the inaguration of the exhibition Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Old photographs of Rahmat’o’llah Hussaini — the first person in Abu Dhabi to open a post office in the 1950s — were displayed at an exhibition held in the Royal Meridian Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The photos were taken by Amer Rawhani, who owned a studio in Abu Dhabi at the time, and the exhibition was organised by Hussaini’s sons and daughters, held under the patronage of Shaikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance, while being inaugurated by Shaikh Ahmad Bin Nayahan Mabarak Al Nahayan.

Hussaini, one of the first immigrants into Abu Dhabi from Iran, also opened the first shop to sell and repair radios. This was located in the old market souk of the UAE capital, in an area which is now the corniche. It was from here that the parcels and letters from Abu Dhabi residents were first accepted by Hussaini and then taken by him by car to Sharjah Airport, then a small military base, to be delivered to the world via a centralised sorting office in Bahrain.

A photo from 1956 depicting Hussaini’s trip to Dubai on a lanj — a medium-sized Gulf sailing boat used for fishing. Image Credit: Supplied

In recognition of his voluntary services, the UAE’s Founding Father Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan honoured Hussaini by awarding him his very own P.O. Box number, 86.

The exhibition showcased 70 old photographs detailing a timeline of Hussaini’s life from when he first came to Abu Dhabi in 1956 until his death in 2011.

More than 150 visitors attended the opening of the exhibition, which concluded with a signing ceremony of a book about Hussaini’s life, which includes facts and experiences of what it was like to live in Abu Dhabi during the 1950s.


old photographs detailing Hussaini’s life shown at the exhibition

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Hussaini’s son Dr Suhail Hussaini told Gulf News that during the 1950s, and even up until very recently, handwriting was not only the only tool for communication in Abu Dhabi but it also remained a respected and appreciated mode within government and wider society.

Hussaini’s son recalled how people used to stand outside his father’s shop waiting in turn to both write and send their letters. Hussaini would often help write them for the residents before putting stamps on them and taking them by car to Sharjah Airport, while also receiving them and returning them to their recipients at the post office in Abu Dhabi.

Hussaini ran his radio shop, dubbed ‘Badi Radio’ from the 1950s until the end of the 1960s, by which time the central market was built and all store owners moved there.

Badi Radio at Abu Dhabi central market in 1956. Image Credit: Supplied

After several years, another market cropped up next to central market and was called New Market, while central market became known as Old Market.

In the 1970s more ‘Badi Radio’ store branches opened in Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah among other emirates, and some still exist to this day.

The original ‘Badi Radio’ shop closed in the 1980s and the family business transformed first into a studio and then a shop selling spectacles. After the demolition of the two markets, however, the shop moved to Zayed shopping centre, where it remains till today.