DUBAI // Residents welcomed a major revamp of the PO box system yesterday that will deliver to and collect mail from private homes for the first time.
Emirates Post has announced details of its My Home service, which will remove the need for regular treks to the post office to pick up mail.
Customers who live in villas anywhere in Abu Dhabi and Dubai can have a personal box fitted to their compound wall from January 1 next year. Mail will be delivered and collected by Emirates Post staff three times a week or, if an additional annual payment is made, six times a week. The householder will signal if there is mail waiting to be collected by activating a green light on the box.
Additionally, two other services that already operate on a small scale will be greatly expanded, enabling many more customers to take advantage of them.
The My Building option is for apartment residents who want their mail delivered to a personal PO box in the lobby or basement of their block.
The My Zone service delivers mail to shelters containing boxes that will be located close to people's homes or workplaces.
The familiar post office-based PO box system will continue under the name My Box. In all three cases, mail would be delivered to the boxes six times a week.
Customers living in villas who were asked about the My Home initiative while collecting mail or waiting to be served at Jumeirah post office were mainly in favour of the changes, though some expressed concern about the cost.
"I think this is a good idea, it would be much easier for us," said the Emirati Mohammed Ali Abdulla, a vice president of Citibank. "I will probably sign up for this."
John McGaw, a resident from the UK who runs a business development company, said: "I think it's fantastic - no more coming here to the post office. This summer I was out of the UAE for four-and-a-half months and the mail all gathered here, and the new service would be far more practical if one had a housekeeper or neighbour who could help out. I think it's great to have this option."
Resident Cynthia Webb, from the US, said: "A personal PO box at my villa would be great, I'd love that."
However, upon learning that the service would cost a minimum of Dh750 a year, she added: "That seems like a lot. I'd love the service but I'd have thought it would be free."
Abdulla Mohammed Alashram, the Emirates Post chief executive, said: "My Box is an available service that has always been there. My Shelter was there in a very few areas but we're increasing that. My Building existed but in very small quantities and we're expanding it. These three services are going to be available all over the UAE from next month.
"My Home will be starting only in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from January 1. Once the service is stabilised and grows and we have enough volume we will expand it. I think in a year's time we'll start it in the other emirates."
He said the services would be focused on cities rather than remote rural areas.
"It depends on the demand, we cannot just have one box 70 kilometres from Dubai, it's not economic," he added. "But the plan is definitely to increase the number of subscribers in these areas and improve the service."
A pilot My Home scheme has been operating at Arabian Ranches and Mirdif since October, with 150 households receiving the service for free.
"There were teething troubles when we first started, it's a new service for us and for the customer. There's been a huge learning curve, but we overcame the issues and that's why we're ready to introduce the service."