We always used to send postcards to our family and friends from all over the world. After a couple of years of traveling and a bad experience in China where none of the 30+ postcards we sent had reached their destination, we stopped doing it and only sent an occasional card to our family.
But when we were visiting Dubai with kids for Christmas and New Year holidays, we thought it was a good idea to send our holiday greetings to family and friends from there… But once again, we ended up regretting it…
In this post, you can read all about our Dubai postcard experience. Keep in mind that this experience is from a few years ago and a lot has changed in Dubai since then.
What happened to our holiday postcards from Dubai
Just like most tourists, we bought postcards and stamps at our hotel in Dubai. We wrote a couple of dozen cards and gave them to the reception of our Dubai hotel.
A few weeks later, we asked our family what they thought about our Christmas cards this year. What cards?! It appears that nobody received our postcards. Not in Belgium, not in the UK, not in Lithuania, and not in the USA.
Some friends suggested that maybe Muslim countries censure the outgoing mail and kept it because it had something to do with Christmas…
Other people joked that Dubai probably uses camels to transport the mail and that it might take a while…
When doing research for my blog post about all kinds of fun and special Dubai facts, I found out that they have a really strange postal system in Dubai. Dubai doesn’t have street addresses, just to mention one fact. Also, we have not seen one single post-office in Dubai during our stay (and we did look!). So we started to think it was probably not the best idea to send postcards to start with…
Just when we forgot about the cards, we received a couple of e-mails from family and friends thanking for the late New Year’s wishes. 7 weeks! That’s how much time it took for the postcards to get from Dubai to Belgium.
A few days later, they arrived in the UK as well. Exactly 9 weeks later, the postcards finally reached Lithuania. After 12 weeks, there was still no sign of the cards we sent to the United States though…
‘Is this card meant for a Chinese New Year?’ – my aunt asked. My cousin said that even a camel would have been faster and suggested that they probably use turtles… By the time our cards reach our American friends, they will probably think that we are really early with our New Year’s wishes for next year… In any case, it gives us all something to laugh about.
One of the people who called us to thank for the card said that they had friends living in Dubai who told them that outgoing international mail should not only have a stamp, but also some kind of a sticker, otherwise it gets shipped by boat. I don’t know if it’s true and what kind of a sticker you need (if any), but that would make sense.
It took two months for the boat to reach Belgium, the UK was next, then it took them another week or two to find Lithuania… In the end, our American friends never received our postcards from Dubai.
Should you still be sending postcards?
Should you still be sending postcards in this time of instant communication? Or are they getting extinct? And what about all those people who are not online? What about your grandma?
Even after this experience, or maybe even more because of it, I would say don’t be afraid to be old-fashioned and send a postcard next time you are traveling. In the best case, it will arrive as expected and you’ll make someone happy. And otherwise, you will have a funny story to share at the next family reunion.
With a bit of luck, you might even make it into the Guinness World Records. Although that might be a tough one to beat – there was once a letter that took 220 years to arrive… So there’s still hope for our postcards from Dubai that never got to the U.S. 🙂
Somehow this old article that was supposed to be lighthearted all of a sudden got lots of attention many years after it was first written.
People from Dubai say that there are now plenty of post offices in the city and that their postal system works perfectly well now. Although most of them seem to find it normal that the post takes 30-45 days to get to its destination, so you may want to keep that it mind if you are planning to send mail from Dubai.
And so I feel obliged to add that this is in no way a review of the Dubai post system or its efficiency and it was never meant to be. For us, this was the very last time we sent postcards from our vacation destination. But that has more to do with all the instant communication means that are now available to all of us and not with any postal system in the world.
All that being said, I am also going to turn off comments on this old article as I see no point in discussing this any further.
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