Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The Goat was mildly surprised when, over sixteen years ago, he arrived in the middle east and was told about the Post Office Box. The essential detail was that there were no door-to-door mail deliveries in Doha, and all incoming mail had to be addressed to a PO box. In keeping with tradition, the Goat adopted his employer’s PO box as his own mailing address. This was highly convenient, because the Goat’s employer had a driver whose duties included taking outgoing mail to Doha’s central post office and collecting all incoming mail. A change of employer and country in 2002 led to a change of address, and new PO boxes in Dubai and later Sharjah were easy to arrange.

Further changes in the Goat’s employer forced further amendments to the Goat’s postal address, despite living in the same Crumbling Villa. Eventually the Goat got Beloved Wife to arrange a personal PO box address; something that in retrospect he should have done years previously. Naturally, frequent trips to the post office are necessary, but this is a more reliable source of incoming mail than the vagaries of promises from former employers to forward anything that came from someone accidentally left off the “My New Address” round robin.

Unfortunately, we now live in a less innocent world than that of the 1990s. Barclaycard, for example, now won’t accept anything addressed to a PO box in the middle east. And because doorstep postal deliveries don’t happen, this means that the Goat has to use Nanny Goat’s home address in the UK for Barclaycard correspondence. Apparently it’s for “security reasons,” which might mean that PO box addresses are perceived as only being used by drug barons, money launderers and other ne’er-do-wells who don’t want mail items ending up at their homes.

Please: the situation with regard to postal deliveries in the middle east (and possibly elsewhere) is this:-
  • Normal mail does not get delivered door-to-door.
  • Everybody has a Post Office Box, and all mail goes there.
  • PO boxes are not solely for dodgy dealers.
  • Home deliveries are by courier, which is more expensive and needs someone to sign for the goods.

More recently, one of the Goat’s invest managers kicked up a major stink regarding the change of address when the Goat moved back from Doha to Dubai. The change in mailing address was just fine, but the confirmation letter from the Isle of Man was very heavy-handed, threatening that without a proof of residential address, the firm would be unable to manage the Goat’s portfolio. A long email exchange followed, wherein it became apparent that the Goat was seemingly the firm’s only middle-east client, and the absence of door-to-door postal deliveries was clearly a fiction invented by the Goat in order to be awkward. No amount of “The Crumbling Villa is in Beloved Wife’s name, and all bills and bank statements point at the PO box” would be believed. “Your only client in the middle east? Either you’re lying, or everybody else has found a secret work-around that doesn’t involve a post office box.”

Remember, this is simply to establish the Goat’s residence; his correspondence address was already clear and a matter of written record.

Eventually the Goat managed to convince the Isle of Man-With-Tiny-Brain, and all was fine and dandy. For a month. Then the Goat received an email complaining that official investment correspondence addressed to The Crumbling Villa had been returned undelivered. It seems that the obsession with obtaining a residential address (to where it would be impossible to mail anything) had taken precedence over the correspondence address. The Goat had to fill out the Change of Correspondence Address – again – to finally sort out the matter. No naming and shaming, because they did write and apologise about their screw-up.

And now, according to Emirates Post, there is a new “My Home” service that includes doorstep delivery of mail. Dh750 a year for three deliveries a week; Dh1250 for six deliveries a week. That’s subject to the target address being a villa and not an apartment, and further subject to it being located in one of the “selected areas.” The new service does include SMS alerts when registered mail arrives, and a 10% discount on Emirates Post courier service, so it could work for some, even if it doesn’t look like particular good value for the Goat. If the picture on the flyer is to be believed, Emirates Post will stick a mailbox on the outside of the villa and deposit letters from home in it.

Glory hallelujah! Does this mean that, at last, “The Crumbling Villa, Dubai” could become a real address that banks and financial institutions could use without fear of it being a front for money laundering? Of course not: the service consists fundamentally of emptying the PO box periodically and dumping its contents at a target address.



hnd said...

We've also been through this shenanigans recently having moved to Muscat. Found that the simplest way to resolve the problem was to give up on email, turn on the veepthing and simply sky pe them.

Keefieboy said...

Even after five years of living in Spain, I'm still finding it hard to believe that people and businesses have actual street addresses that actually work for the receiving of mail and visitors. Why is it so hard for Middle Eastern countries to emulate this?


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