Emirates to the World Postal History from 1909 to Unification

This exhibition tells the story of postal services in the Emirates from their earliest days through to Unification in 1971. The story is told through the stamps, letters, artworks and archives found in the extraordinary private collection of Mr Abdulla MT Khoory, president of Emirates Philatelic Association. Mr Khoory’s collection has been augmented with objects and images kindly supplied by Emirates Post and several other historical archives. 

The journey of the development of the postal service in the Emirates reflects the story of the birth of the UAE. This is not surprising; both are stories of communication and exchange between people.

Communication in this region has always been vital. Rulers once had their own private Murasilun (messengers) to deliver letters. The Tarish was an ‘oral postman’ who recited messages, the Kaytub was a scribe for the Sheikhs and the Karani was a letter writer for ordinary people. In the pre-literate age, letters were sometimes no more than symbols with pre-agreed meanings, such as the practice of scorching the envelope or marking it with a symbol as a sign that someone needed to come home urgently. These messages might be sent with anyone who happened to be heading in the right direction.

With the advent of postal services in 1909 written communication in the form of mail became more efficient and reliable, and business and personal exchanges flourished.

In any era, postal history is a history of individuals – the people who sent and received letters. Philately - stamp collecting - is fascinating because it allows us to take these individual, personal stories and set them into the bigger picture of national and international events. 

Mr Khoory’s collection is uniquely suited to tell these stories because of its scope and completeness. It gives us a wonderful insight into the era prior to digital communication, as the United Arab Emirates was being born.