Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, refrain from an adult beverage and put the rug on the camel in preparation for a ride. We have an interesting story to tell of the man on todays stamp coming to grips with a gift from the heavens.
The stamp today is from Dubai. Before the discovery of oil, or the development of port/airport facilities that today Dubai is known for. What it does feature is the Sheik who will lead through the coming change. Dubai only made stamps for 10 years before the formation of the United Arab Emirates. As such, the stamps provide a link to the world before the oil.
Todays stamp is issue A1, a two Naye Paise stamp issued by the Emirate of Dubai on June 15th, 1963. The stamp features Sheik Rashid bin Said al Maktum and a cuttlefish. It was part of the 17 stamp first issue of Dubai. At the time Dubai used the Indian Rupee as it’s currency. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 30 cents in its mint condition. The stamp to look out for in this issue is the 10 rupee issue that is just a portrait of the Sheik and is worth $60. That interesting window of Dubai post independence and pre oil should lead to higher values over time as memories of the time fade and well off locals want to connect with their past. I am surprised it has not happened already.
A major industry pre oil in Dubai was pearl diving. However this activity became less lucrative over time as the price declined due to economic factors and the innovation in Japan of cultured pearls. The Sheik, in power since 1958 had sought ways to turn Dubai into a major port. There were rivals with this goal with nearby Abu Dhabi in partnership with Bahrain and Dubai in concert with Qatar. The sheik even sent a daughter to marry the Emir of Qatar. A dredging of a canal was achieved to improve the port and starting in 1969 revenue began to pour in from the discovery of oil. All of this went on while Britain and Indian influence in the area declined by choice.
The Sheik took the long view on the oil discovery. He famously stated. My father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover. His son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel. The sheik got to work to see that this did not happen. The United Arab Emirates was formed with a team of previous rivals to make up for the vacuum left by the departing British and Indians. The Sheik was in charge and came up with a new currency. The port/airport facilities were expanded to the point that Dubai began to be compared to Hong Kong as a world trade center. This well occupies the people and many guest workers but it remains to be seen of the end of oil revenue will leave debts or wealth left over. The Sheik died in 1990. His son succeeded him but his son did not as they seem to go with the Middle Eastern and Cuban practice of passing leadership to little brothers instead of sons.
The cuttlefish on the stamp is not actually a fish but a mollusk in the same family as the octopus. It is considered one of the smartest sea creatures as it can signal other cuttlefish and predators by changing its colors. The creature is a common food source in Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, who also make use of the animals ink sacs,
Well I am ready for my camel ride so I will open the conversation in the below comment section. I wonder of all the facilities built in Dubai have stomped out the roaming nature of the people. Trading was always a part of what they did but not the sum total of it. Perhaps now they just use their airlines to satisfy the wonderlust. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.