Stamp-ing His Authority

ABU DHABI - For sixteen years Tarek Elsherif has tenaciously collected Abu Dhabi postage stamps, building up a complete series that dates back
to 1966.

By Olivia Olarte

Published: Sun 19 Apr 2009, 12:26 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:16 AM

Currently on display at Millennium Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the exhibition presents a glimpse of the history of the emirate — from the ascension of the late UAE President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as Ruler of Abu Dhabi and before the establishment of the UAE federation — till the present.

Tarek recalled starting his hobby when he was seven years old, taking stamps off his father’s letters in Egypt because he liked their shapesand colours.

His curiosity led him to search catalogues to rate their value and later became a member of associations of collectors. “Collecting stamps became like my second nature,” he said.

Tarek has had much encouragement to pursue his hobby. His father was an avid collector of Egyptian coins and so is his wife, Naglaa.

His 13-year-old daughter Aya is continuing the tradition. “She collects stones and minerals,” says the proud father of three.

When Tarek first came to Abu Dhabi in 1993, he fell in love with the country and was inspired to collect UAE stamps. Aside from Abu Dhabi, he had several postage stamps of Sharjah and Dubai “but not the full set,” he noted.

Two of his favourites are the rare sets of the 1975s Second Gulf Long Distance Swimming Championship and the 1977s 6th National Day, also known as the Defence set.

“You can’t get this anywhere else now,” he says.

The swimming set was issued after the event was finished and recalled, while the Defence set was withdrawn immediately from circulation because the date in Arabic was erroneously printed backwards.

Currently valued at $700 for the three pieces of the Defence stamps and $350 for the set of three swimming stamps, Tarek maintains he is not tempted to sell it at all. A very rare set of the 1972 postage stamps was also on display when the UAE was formally established.

“At that time, there was no stamp yet in the name of the new country, so they took the Abu Dhabi stamp and printed UAE over it. Again, this one is very rare and you don’t find it every day,” points Tarek to a set of stamps with a photo of the young Shaikh Zayed.

The stamps exhibition is available for viewing till Sunday.

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