For the love of stamps: Qatar Philatelic Club
What do you consider a hobby in Qatar? What do you do when you’re not working or spending time with friends or family? Do you get involved in any activities that do not involve technology?
Perhaps you might want to consider the long-forgotten art of stamp collection. Qatar is a trove of individuals who collect stamps, banknotes and other similar items. In fact, there’s an entire club of them in a quiet corner around Al Sadd at the Qatar Philatelic and Numismatic Club (QPNC). “Stamps are like little works of art, miniature paintings that you can send someone. It’s a way for you to sell your country to someone living elsewhere through a letter”. That’s Hussein Rajab Al-Ismail’s love of stamps for you. Al Ismail is an avid collector of stamps, has been since childhood. He also happens to be the Vice President of the QPNC. He is one of the many volunteers who work part-time at the club, which thrives on the enthusiasm and support of its 320+ members of varying nationalities and collections.
Although members of the QPNC collect banknotes and currency coins too, stamp collection or philately is what most members are passionate about. The club is also affiliated with the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP) and the Federation of Inter-Asian Philately (FIAP), both international organizations for philatelists. Qatar is one of their youngest member organizations. This allows members to participate in various global philately exhibitions every year.
Presenting stamp collections at international exhibition and competing for a medal is no mean feat. It requires years of dedication and much attention to detail and creativity in terms of organizing one’s stamps. There are many ways to organize your collection, some commonly used systems are Thematic, Postal History, Tradition and Maximaphily.
– A collection is organized thematically based on what is depicted on the stamp. Al-Ismail presents an interesting example, “I once knew a collector who organized one of his collections based on moustaches – types of moustaches, how to trim a moustache etc. He spent a lot of time sourcing stamps from different countries that produced stamps with moustaches on them. It took a lot of work, but was really interesting.”
– Stamps organized on the basis of postal history will be arranged on the basis of the postmarks on them or events or changing times in postal history.
– Tradition is about arranging stamps based on specific aspects related to a place’s customs and traditions depicted on its stamps.
– Maximaphily though differs a little. It is all about obtaining a picture postcard, a postage stamp and a postmark should represent the same subject and their attributes including colour should be in concordance.[boxify cols_use =”1″ cols =”2″ position =”right” box_spacing =”10″ padding =”10″ background_color =”#3c3c3c” background_opacity =”#3c3c3c” ]
Al Sadd, Qatar (next to the British Council)
25.280007, 51.491833 (approximate)
Everyday: 8am – 12noon and 4pm – 8pm
Phone: 4432 3292
Fax: 4432 4435
Two annual stamp and banknotes auctions bring all the members together and are two major social events on the QPNC’s calendar. It is also a social hub for collectors and enthusiasts to get together to swap items from their collections or refer to catalogues and other books in the cosy library downstairs or to simply stop by for lively discussions with the friendly staff and fellow-members.
Members of the club also visit as many as 32 social clubs around areas such as Al Dhakhira, Al Khor and other areas outside Doha to present their collections to members. “There are many people around Doha who may not have heard about the QPNC or so many collectors whom we may haven’t yet met already. This is just our way to get to know other people around the country as well as spread the word about our club” Al-Ismail adds.
Take a tour of the small two-level villa that the club is housed in and you will find friendly staff always ready to help you out. I tell them I have a meagre collection from my teenage days of receiving letters and postcards from snailmail penpals. Mr. Al-Ismail asks me to bring my album in sometime so he can take a look.