Changing a Postal Money Order 1971

Dubai's Postal Service has a long history. Originally opened in 1909 as a Branch Office by the Indian Postal Administration, later taken over by Pakistan Postal Administration. Subsequently British Postal Administration took control in 1948 prior to Dubai Government assuming control on June 14, 1963. In 1971 Dubai's Postal Service had yet to become part of UAE's Postal Service. Dubai's Postal Service retained its "old world" courtesies at a time when many of their International Postal Services still depended on pieces of paper being sent around the world to Postal Services and their Customers alike. This is a story about one of those pieces of paper....

A Birthday Present from my Mother in Law

My Mother in Law lived in New Zealand. She thoughtfully airmailed a 15 New Zealand Dollar Postal Money Order for my Birthday. The Postal Order Process was simple.

  • My Mother in Law bought the Postal Order in her local Post Office.
  • NZ Post Office gave her the Original Postal Order which she airmailed to me.
  • NZ Post Office airmailed a copy of the Postal Money Order to Dubai Post Office
  • I took my Postal Money Order to Dubai Post Office
  • Dubai Post Office matched the Postal Money Order sent by NZ Post Office to them with mine.
  • If they matched (why wouldn't they?), Dubai Post Office paid me the face value of the Postal Money Order converted to Dirhams
  • EASY !!!!!!
Chartered Bank

Collecting My Birthday Present

In 1971 I lived in Al Fahidi Street. Nearest Post Office was the Head Post Office near the Ambassador Hotel so that's where I went. I handed over my Postal Money Order to the Counter Clerk. He looked at it for awhile then disappeared through a door marked POSTMASTER GENERAL. He reappeared shortly afterwards and beckoned to follow him through that door. I found myself inside the Postmaster General's Office. PG stood behind his desk to greet me. We shook hands. PG invited me to sit down. I did. Tea arrived. PG and I drank Tea and discussed the world in general. Tea finished. Coffee arrived. We drank coffee and discussed the world some more.

With coffee cups emptied and appropriately shaken ("No more thank you"), it was down to business. PG had my Postal Money Order on his desk. His Clerk arrived and handed PG their copy of my Postal Money Order. PG carefully scrutinised both my MO and his MO then called the Clerk and gave him both pieces of paper. Clerk disappeared back out through the door. PG and I continued our discussions.

After awhile the Clerk reappeared with another piece of paper which he handed to the PG. PG examined it carefully then nodded his head. Clerk showed me the paper. I nodded too. The paper contained the Clerk's calculation of how many Dirhams I was to receive for my 15 New Zealand Dollars. I was asked if I agreed. Of course. I signed the Clerk's paper. PG nodded his head. The Clerk then went to a large, impressive and ancient safe located in one corner of PG's Office. It had an equally impressive combination lock. The Clerk put on his spectacles then crouched down in front of the safe. Then I realised why! The safe's combination lock's security code was DYMO taped to the outside of the safe door!! SLOWLY he rotated the combination lock dials in between referring to the security code taped to the safe door until the safe door opened!

Sometimes convenience took precedence over security back then!!!

The Clerk pulled out a wad of banknotes from the safe and carefully counted out my Dirhams. He walked over to the PG and handed him the Dirham notes. PG checked, then nodded. Clerk took back the money from the PG and approached me with dignity and gravity the occasion demanded to present me with my Dirhams. I didn't count the banknotes. I shook hands first with the PG then his Clerk, said my farewells and departed Dubai General Post Office Headquarters with my Birthday present from my Mother in Law in New Zealand safely in my pocket.

How many Dirhams did I get for my 15 New Zealand Dollars? Actually it was Qatar Riyals in those days. Can't remember how many. 12 QDR bought one UK pound in those days - I think!

Dubai General Post Office circa 1971

My Mother in Law never did send me another Postal Money Order for my Birthday - which was a shame!