You may have trouble sending a letter to the United Arab Emirates if you don’t have a post office box. That’s because Dubai has no street addresses, no zip codes or area codes, and no postal delivery service. Somehow, the city manages to not just survive, but thrive as a major regional hub and international center of finance and commerce. How?
The UAE has a postal agency called Emirates Post, which operates the post offices across the country and which has about two dozen branches in Dubai, a city of about 2 million people. These branches hold post office boxes, where mail of all sizes can be delivered, but they do not deliver this mail to the recipients. It is the responsibility of the recipient to contract a post office box and check this to receive mail. (Not surprisingly, this can be a major hassle for anyone who works a full day at work, but fortunately, these post offices are generally open 24 hours a day.)
This means that addresses in Dubai are incredibly basic. If you have a PO box number, the only information you need to get something delivered is:
P.O. Box #####
Dubai also does not have numbered street addresses, probably because construction is so prevelant and roads are always changing that building numbers would be constantly changing. That provides a different conundrum if you want something delivered by international courier such as FedEx or DHL. The sender must write an address to best describe the place of deliver, typically listing the building name and neighborhood description. For example:
Suite No. 999
Jebel Ali Freezone, Gate 2, First right after entry
Just make sure you include a reliable phone number so the couriers can ask for directions and confirm delivery time. The same happens when you have things delivered. Stores often include a form for drawing a map to your home to avoid confusion.
How do you survive in environment like this? Actually, it’s amazingly convenient. Because everyone in the UAE has to work somewhere, the solution (for most white collar workers) is to have mail delivered directly to the office, which at this Viceroy’s administrative office is checked diligently twice a day by an office worker. Any mail is personally dropped off at my desk. Interestingly enough, this means that the UAE’s bizarre system of no postal delivery actually makes mail delivery incredibly convenient.