The NRI who has collected 2,000 phone cards


Hameed Kunnippar Paika also has a collection of over 3,000 newspaper clippings of major news articles and over 1,900 stamps and inlaid postage.

Collecting is a popular hobby but collecting items that most of us discard on a daily basis is a unique thing to do. Indian national and Dubai resident Hameed Kunnippar Paika, who works as a store clerk in a shipping firm located in Bur Dubai, has one such unique interest and collection of telephone cards. He is also an avid collector of regular collector’s items like stamps, coins, currencies, and newspaper clippings.

Card-CollectionsPhone card collectors or ‘fusilatelists’ were a rage in the 90s. However, with the introduction of the electronic dispensers for phone credit, phone cards have become a bit rare, or redundant.

With a collection of over 2,000 telephone cards which were made in the UAE, Paika now finds it hard to find the cards, because according to him: “Telephone companies don’t make cards anymore. So my collection comes from friends or family who come across these cards in various places,” said Paika. “Special edition, limited cards are made during UAE National Day or other public holidays, which I try and collect,” he added.


Since telephone companies like Etisalat did not mark a date on the cards manufactured, people would know about the remaining balance by punching small holes on the cards.

“The oldest card I have is, according to my estimates, about 30 years old. These cards are hard to find,” added Paika. “In the early 90s there was a surge in the sale and collection of phone cards,” he said.

“One of the most beautiful things about phone cards in the UAE is that, one look at the cards will give a lot of information into the rich culture, flora, fauna, industry, and other details,” added Paika

He also has a collection of over 3,000 newspaper clippings of major news articles from across the globe. He also has a collection of over 1,900 stamps and inlaid postage in the UAE. Paika, who began collecting coins right from his school days, now has a massive collection in both his hometown Kerala, India, as well as here in Dubai.

“Since my mother and wife know that I enjoy collecting, they also collect items like coins, stamps, and other material from friends and family for me. Sometimes even my children pick up things to show me later,” said Paika.

Close to the year 2020, Paika intends hosting an exhibition of his collection which gives a glimpse into the history of the UAE through telephone cards/ newspaper clippings.

Source : Khaleej Times / Dhanusha Gokulan

1 Comment

Leave a Reply