|Q8 January 2, 2006 Member ESC 384|
In LOP 125 there is under many others a postmark of Ras Mallap. In no postal guide from 1889 and 1922 I could find this name. Where was it situated and what is the story of this post-office. Furthermore I have postmarks of Safaja and Safaga. Is this the same name for one place? The arabic letters are somehow different at the left side.
R1 January 26, 2006. ESC 240
Question 8 is interesting because it illustrates well the problems of transliteration from Arabic to European languages. There is no letter P in Arabic, so Ras Mallap is a mistaken attempt to transliterate the Arabic Ras Mal'ab (ending in a B), which is a small settlement on the eastern coast of Sinai between Suez and Abu Zeneima (see map for precise indication: this Department of Survey and Mines map of 1938 is at 1:100,000). Ras Malab, described by the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Pilot of 1944 as "low and sandy", was the site of a gypsum factory; the update of 2001 says "the old mine building has gone. A new building has replaced it surrounded with high fencing and floodlights." UNEF troops had a base there in 1994, and I imagine postmarks must be exceedingly rare.
Safaga and Safaja are the same place: it is a working port, and increasingly a holiday centre, on the western bank of the Red Sea south of Hurghada. The last letter is pronounced either hard (geem) or soft (jeem) in different parts of Egypt; hence the problem for the transliterator in making up the postmark handstamps.