Bahrain prepares for a digital postman
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
Let’s be honest: when was the last time you wrote or received an old-fashioned letter? These days, even email is considered a relic of the past, and we all just send messages on different messaging apps to get work done. Which makes one wonder if there is any point in having brick-and-mortar post offices anymore.
It is not as if Bahrain has yet racked up a large enough e-commerce trail to make post offices meaningful; indeed, e-commerce companies use private firms anyway, so the question is rhetorical anyway.
That is why the recent efforts of the government to reorganise the Bahrain Postal Department and make it more relevant to modern needs deserve a cheer. The Kingdom’s postal service is one of the oldest in the GCC, having started in 1884.
There was a time until as recently as the 1990s when letters were addressed to post boxes belonging to either companies or individuals, and we collected the letters or parcels from the post office itself. Later, as our roads and buildings were numbered and mapped, we experienced the luxury of home delivery.
Today, our post offices are used largely as waystations in the last-mile delivery of government digital services like updating GOSI, driving licences, etc.
Now, we are at the edge of re-working the postal service so that it remains relevant to modern 21st century needs and is privatised so that government money is not spent on an obsolete service.
With four blue-chip consultancies competing to renovate Bahrain’s postal services, maybe we shall soon have our own state-of-the-art ‘Smart Post Office, which can help us track our deliveries from home, work the system with easy-to-use and maintain self-service kiosks, and push for the adoption of last-mile digitization.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism