QATAR. The Post & Go issues

2015. The 20th GCC Stamps Exhibition in Doha

In August 2015, during the World Stamp Exhibition held in Singapore, managers and officials of various postal administrations visited the booth of Royal Mail, which had two 'Post & Go' postal kiosks in service (see article, also published in VARIABLE 38). Among them was Qatar Post, which also participated in the exhibition, sharing a booth with various Persian Gulf postal services.
As a result of this visit, Qatar Post decided to test two postal kiosks in Doha, during the 20th GCC Stamp Exhibition.

Completely unknown to the vast majority of collectors from Western countries, the GCC Stamp Exhibition is an annual philatelic event that brings together the best collections of the Arab Gulf countries. They are organized, alternately, by the postal administrations of the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
After Kuwait in 2014, the 20th GCC Stamp Exhibition was held in Doha, capital of Qatar, from September 29th to October 3rd 2015. It was organized by the Qatar Postal Services Company (Q-Post) in collaboration with the Qatar Club for Amateurs of Collecting Stamps and Coins.
This philatelic event was held at the Landmark Shopping Mall, a large shopping and entertainment centre located in Al Gharaffa, northwest of the capital. It was opened by the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, H E Dr Hessa Sultan Al Jaber.

It is unusual to hold philatelic exhibitions in shopping malls. However, as indicated by the exhibition announcements and leaflets, the intention of the organizers was to promote philately and, without a doubt, a great way to promote philately is to bring it to a busy place. In Qatar, with outside temperatures around 40 degrees during the day, the big shopping centres attract thousands of visitors, who shop and enjoy their leisure time. Without doubt the oasis of the Landmark Shopping Mall was the right place.

The exhibition took up the central area of the mall, and was arranged in two zones. In front of the entrance, the philatelic exhibition with about 200 frames and some tables for dealers.

Next, the booths of the philatelic services of the six Arab Gulf countries,
and at one end, in a prominent position next to the booth for personalized stamps, the two new 'Post & Go' postal kiosks.

The machines installed in Qatar were the Royal Mail 'Post & Go' / Intelligent AR kiosks codes A011 & A012, renamed here QA01 & QA02.

Qatar Post is the first postal administration of a country outside the UK area of influence, to use 'Post & Go' postal kiosks.

Unlike equipment installed, so far, in other countries, where during the first year one of the reels is reserved to issue stamps with the UK 'Union flag' design, the kiosks installed in the Doha exhibition issued only Qatari stamps with two different designs. A definitive design, illustrated with the emblem of the State of Qatar, and a special design for the exhibition, with the Qatari emblem and the philatelic event logo on the left side. The rolls of labels were manufactured by Cartor Security Printing, and digitally printed.
In addition, during the exhibition, both kiosks included the special overprint '20th Gcc Exhibition', under the face value indicator on all stamps issued.

The logo of the exhibition symbolizes the dhow, a traditional wooden boat, sailing the Persian Gulf, and very common in the Bay of Doha.
Besides the 'Post & Go' design, the logo appears on two special philatelic issues released by Qatar Post, and the postal mark of the exhibition (pictures).

Kiosk QA01 For the first time, Intelligent AR kiosks were programmed with only four postal rates, which make up the usual set or 'Collectors strip'. The postage rates correspond to four main tariff zones - domestic mail ('QA Letter'), Gulf countries ('GCC Letter'), European countries ('EU Letter') and rest of the world ('Worldwide'). However, the Worldwide postage rate does not exist in the complex tariff system in force in Qatar, which establishes a minimum of seven different zones.
Furthermore, face value indicators do not correspond to the first weigh step (0 to 20g), the most common, but to the second (21 to 50 g.), or even the third step (51 to 100 g.), which raised, notably, the price of stamps.

Kiosk QA02 Finally, the price was established according to the first weight step (0 to 20g.) for each zone, although they did not change the face value indicator on the stamps (see table of postal rates, at end of article).

The code at the bottom is unique to each stamp. In the first block, B is for the philatelic issue type, 9 for the month of issue (stamps issued on September 29th & 30th, or O for the stamps issued from October 1st to 3rd), QA15 for the country and year of issue. Then, the second block with the printing equipment (QA01 or QA02), followed by two blocks of 4 and 3 digits, corresponding to the session and stamp number, respectively.

With little time to prepare the installation, it was not possible to change the payment gateway, so the price of stamps and payments were made in pound sterling (right, receipt of first day of issue).

The installation of the two postal kiosks aroused great interest amongst the many visitors to the exhibition and customers passing through the mall. Officials and managers of postal services in the exhibition were also interested in the equipment features and its issues.

At the closing of the GCC Stamp Exhibition, the two postal kiosks were transferred to the general post office in Doha.
It is expected that, after some modifications to adapt them to the actual postal needs of Qatar Post, one of the machines will be installed in the Doha general post office, while the second kiosk would be installed temporarily in another branch, to check on usage and the acceptance by postal users.
An interesting project to follow closely.

Postage rates 2015
  0 to 20g.   21 to 50g. 51 to 100g.
  Face value indicator   Price in the kiosk    
Qatar QA Letter   £0.20 ≈ 1.10 QR    
Gulf Cooperation Council GCC Letter 1.50 QR £0.30 ≈ 1.65 QR 2.50 QR 5.00 QR
Arab countries   2.00 QR   4.00 QR 7.50 QR
Asia   3.00 QR   6.00 QR 11.00 QR
Europe EU Letter 4.00 QR £0.80 ≈ 4.40 QR 7.50 QR 13.50 QR
Rest of Africa   4.00 QR   7.50 QR 13.50 QR
East and Southeast Asia   4.00 QR   7.50 QR 13.50 QR
America and Oceania Worldwide 4.50 QR £0.90 ≈ 5.00 QR 8.50 QR 16.00 QR

This article will be included in the next issue of our publication VARIABLE. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please contact us before December 20th 2015.

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This page was created in November 2015 and last updated: 08.12.15 . English edition last rewritten by S. Goodman (08.12.2015)