British Commonwealth

Middle Eastern Stamps

The involvement of the British Post Office in the Middle East makes for a fascinating study, especially for collectors of British stamps as much involves overprints on these stamps.

However, to begin at the beginning, the first country in the catalogue alphabetically, Abu Dhabi. This fact alone possibly accounts for its popularity among collectors. The British Postal Administration was established on 30 March 1963 and at first surcharged British stamps were used, until the first issue inscribed Abu Dhabi appeared a year later. Abu Dhabi stamps as such were only issued for ten years and now command relatively high prices. 

Abu Dhabi was one of the Trucial States, along with Ajman, Dubai, Fujeira, Ras al Khaima, Sharjah and Umm al Qiwan – sadly the others succumbed to the temptation of philatelic exploitation. Just one set, issued on 7 January 1961, inscribed Trucial States was issued. Later the states would form the United Arab Emirates, for which stamps so inscribed first appeared on 1 January 1973.

Next alphabetically comes Aden, stamps so inscribed being issued on 1 April 1937. Definitives with the portrait of King George V were released in 1939. The final stamps were issued in 1965. Separate issues were produced in 1942 for the Aden Protectorate States of Kathiri State of Seiyun and Qu’aiti State in Hadhramaut – the latter was initially inscribed Qu’aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla, and later Qu’aiti State in Hadhramaut.

The stamps of the Aden Protectorate States were overprinted ‘South Arabia’ in 1966: there followed several issues aimed primarily at the philatelic market. However, between 1963 and 1966 several issues appeared inscribed Federation of South Arabia, most being part of omnibus sets arranged by the Crown Agents, ranging from the Red Cross Centenary to the 20th anniversary of UNESCO.

Popular Stamps from the Middle East

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North Middle East Stamps

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South Middle East Stamps

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BR PAs IN E ARABIA 1961 SG91 Mint

Stock Code: P201010319

BR PAs IN E ARABIA 1960 SG56b Used

Stock Code: P201010305

ADEN 1856 SGZ23 Cancel

Stock Code: P201012321

ABU DHABI 1966 SG15/25 Mint

Stock Code: P189016441

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A Brief History of Stamps from the Middle East

Kuwait

Kuwait used overprinted Indian stamps from 1 April 1923, with the British postal administration coming into force from 1 April 1948 with overprinted British stamps then being used. The same pattern is repeated except that the Sheikh refused to allow the Jubilee Jamboree stamps, albeit already overprinted for Kuwait, to be put on sale. Stamps in values of 5np, 10np and 40np depicting the Sheikh were put on sale on 1 February 1958 for local use, joined by other values on 1 February 1959, the day after British involvement ceased.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi was one of the Trucial States, along with Ajman, Dubai, Fujeira, Ras al Khaima, Sharjah and Umm al Qiwan – sadly the others succumbed to the temptation of philatelic exploitation. Just one set, issued on 7 January 1961, inscribed Trucial States was issued. Later the states would form the United Arab Emirates, for which stamps so inscribed first appeared on 1 January 1973.

Aden Protectorate States

The stamps of the Aden Protectorate States were overprinted ‘South Arabia’ in 1966: there followed several issues aimed primarily at the philatelic market. However, between 1963 and 1966 several issues appeared inscribed Federation of South Arabia, most being part of omnibus sets arranged by the Crown Agents, ranging from the Red Cross Centenary to the 20th anniversary of UNESCO.

British Postal Agencies in Easternn Arabia

Probably the most interesting phase for British collectors is that of the British Postal Agencies in Eastern Arabia. Three, of which more to follow, namely Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, used British stamps both surcharged in local currency and overprinted with the name of the country. However, British stamps only surcharged in local currency were issued for use in Muscat from 1 April 1948 to 29 April 1966 (although the stamps were also used for periods in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar and Umm Said). The surcharges were applied not only to definitive issues but also to certain special issues, namely the 1948 Royal Silver Wedding and Olympic Games, 1949 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union, 1953 Coronation and 1957 World Scout Jamboree.