Al Mussala Post Office

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Photo Credit: Mattia Cittadino

Abdullah Khoory, president of the Emirates Philatelic Association, states, “Interesting stories can be found in any country’s stamps, and our stamps are no exception.” 

A small postage stamp from the United Arab Emirates in 1964 pays homage to a surprising figure: John F. Kennedy. While halfway across the world from America, UAE’s relatively new existence gave way to a diverse array of stamps in the 20th century, and gave a clue into its relationship with the Western world. 

The first post office in UAE’s capital, Dubai, was opened in 1909, under the direction of the British Empire. Due to the region’s proximity to Britain’s colonial holdings in India, the mail system used Indian stamps and postage was paid for with rupees. With India gaining independence in 1947, the Trucial States, as they were then known, would use stamps supplied by the British up until the 1960s. As each emirate took over its own postal agency, peculiar postage would spring up as each state got its start—-including U.S. presidents. 

Due to each emirate printing its own stamps, most were commissioned overseas to U.S. or U.K. companies. The result was regional stamps with subjects that had nothing to do with, nor could be found in, the countries–from penguins and dinosaurs to Ancient Roman gods. In 1964, Dubai released a series of “space stamps,” not because the country was involved with the space race but simply due to it being an international phenomenon. 

Once the UAE was formed in 1971, the unified country’s stamps became a little more formal. The first set of stamps to feature the name of the newly formed nation was in 1973. Today, you’re unlikely to find any dinosaurs on stamps here! 

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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