Dubai: The UAE, as a nation has turned only 50, but the country has a history of 113 years in postal services since the days of the Trucial States.
The Emirates Post Group (EPG), the official postal operator of the UAE, is highlighting the history of the postal sector and displaying the country’s postal services milestones at the Emirates 2022 World Stamp Exhibition that opened at Expo 2020 Dubai today.
Obaid M. Al Qatami, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at EPG, pointed out that stamps and postal services have enabled civilisations to chronicle various events, landmarks and social customs. “Stamps speak volumes about a country’s history and heritage by documenting significant milestones and sharing them with the world. The stamps of the UAE document the union’s journey of growth over the past 50 years, though, originally, it is a 113-year journey, starting from 1909. They were using Indian currency (such as anna, paisa and rupee) and then moved to fils and dinar in Abu Dhabi and riyals and dirhams in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.”
First postal agency
It was in 1909 that the Trucial States got their first postal agency. Established in Dubai, it was affiliated to India Post. Stamps those days were issued with values in anna, a currency unit that was used in British India. Though there was a postal agency in town, it took more than 20 years to send the first letter from Dubai. Interestingly, the first ‘airmail’ from the Dubai Postal Agency was sent via Sharjah Airport in 1932. Al Qatami said the historic milestone also underlined the fact that the Trucial States did have a camaraderie and association among themselves, much before the unification of the federation.
He said Dubai Postal Agency became a fully integrated post office providing all postal services by 1942.
However, the first set of stamps by the Trucial States were issued in Dubai only in 1961. The next few years saw the expansion of post offices across different states. “After the emirates joined hands to form the union in 1971, a General Directorate of Postal Services was formed under the Ministry of Communications in 1972.”
First stamps of UAE
A year later, in 1973, the first stamps bearing the name of the UAE were issued.
The UAE also joined the Universal Postal Union (UPU) the same year. “Since that time, we’ve witnessed various developments in the postal sector,” Al Qatami said. With expansion in postal services over the years, the General Postal Authority was issued in 1985. In 2001, a federal decree was issued to establish Emirates Postal Establishment (Emirates Post).
In five years, the UAE was selected by the UPU to host its strategy conference in Dubai — the first time it was held outside the UPU headquarters. In 2007, the Emirates Post Group Holding was established with Emirates Post becoming a subsidiary.
The issuance of a federal law establishing Emirates Post Group was done in 2013.
In 2016, EPG became the first postal entity worldwide to receive the International Standard for Service Excellence (TISSE2012) certification by the British Standards Institution, Middle East and Africa. In the same year, EPG also became the fastest postal delivery service in the world, according to the Integrated Index for Postal Development report.
In 2018, the UAE ranked eighth among the world’s top ten countries and became first among Arab countries for international express mail services. Over the years, Al Qatami said, EPG has deployed various business transformation strategy to meet global industry demands, secure continued business growth and maintain the position as a leading postal organisation.
In 2021, the UAE won membership of UPU’s Council of Administration and Postal Operations and also won the bid to host the 28th Universal Postal Congress in 2025. Last year, EPG issued commemorative stamps and souvenir sheets to celebrate the UAE’s Golden jubilee and its unprecedented achievements over the past five decades. The UAE also became the first in the region to issue Non-Fungible Token (NFT) stamps, known as the future of stamps.
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As the UAE hosts the first World Stamp Exhibition at the Dubai Exhibition Centre of Expo 2020 Dubai till January 23, Al Qatami said EPG is set to bring in more advancements in the sector. “We are already in block chain with the NFT stamps and we are changing even the perception of how stamps can be modified because we can see the future and how the transformation is going to be different. NFT will be part of the Metaverse. So the stamps also need to be a part of that and this will become history in the next 50 years. We are trying to focus more on the new generation, engaging them on the way forward.”