By Anjana Sankar,
Abu Dhabi: Ummer Farooq’s job is just an extension of his hobby.The 45-year-old Indian expat who loved collecting stamps all his life landed a job with Emirates Philatelic Association in Dubai five years ago through sheer coincidence.“I was lucky to land a job with the association when I came to the UAE. Here I get to do what I am most passionate about and meet people with similar interests,” Farooq told XPRESS.
Farooq may be just an office secretary managing daily administrative chores at the body, but his collection of postage stamps can hold pride of place in any philatelic collection.Among his prized possessions is a rare collection of Mahatma Gandhi stamps from 110 countries. “These stamps cover the life span of Gandhi from his childhood to his struggle for India’s independence.“My collection is a valuable historical record of his life and philosophies. It is really special,” he said.The first Gandhi stamp issued by the US in 1961 – the first ever stamp on Gandhi by a foreign country along with another one issued by Congo in 1967 and the first British stamp on Gandhi in 1970 are among the rare commemorative issues in his collection.
Farooq also has an entire collection of stamps released by 40 countries to commemorate the centenary of Gandhi in 1968. Other Gandhi collectibles owned by Farooq include the first post card of Gandhi issued by Poland, a postal envelope brought out by Romania and postal seals bearing Gandhi’s 100th birthday on October 2, 1968, introduced by Burma, Czechoslovakia and Luxemburg.Farooq says he got hooked on stamp collecting when in high school.“It was my keen interest in history and biography that attracted me to postage stamps,” said Farooq who is married with two kids. His family lives in Dubai.In this digital age, he says it is much easier to source out stamps through various sites and shops.Today, Farooq is an internationally recognised stamp collector; his collection is worth thousands of dirhams.His Gandhi collection has won him many national and international awards for its thematic value and rarity.This year he represented the UAE and clinched the silver medal in the World Stamp Exhibition held in Thailand.He also won a silver medal in 2012, Sharjah Asian stamp exhibition, 2011 Asian exhibition in Beijing, besides silver and bronze medals in world exhibitions held in Johannesburg and Portugal in 2010.Farooq says he now has just one unfulfilled dream — to win Gold at the World Stamp Exhibition.(Source-Gulf News)