Startling numb-ers!

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Startling numb-ers!

The sale and purchase of fancy mobile phone numbers has been witnessing a tremendous growth in the UAE. It occupies daily spaces in the classifieds of Arabic daily newspapers, auto sale magazines, and websites.

by

Mustafa Al Zarooni

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Published: Tue 24 Sep 2013, 12:29 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:43 PM

A unique cellphone number may cost hundreds of thousands of dirhams. Hence people resort to advertising to put them on display. Sometimes they are even sold through online auctions.

KT illustration by Rajendran

Some people who own such unique phone numbers pointed out that people get obsessed with possessing such numbers for several reasons. The first reason is that such numbers are easily read, memorised, and also in a way show that the owner is influential and powerful. Those who own distinct mobile phone numbers are believed to be holding senior posts, have power, or are immensely rich to be able to such numbers.

Some referred to the fact that their calls have often gone unattended when made from a regular mobile phone number. But when a call is made from a unique number it is attended to immediately.

Ali Al Hashimi pointed out that the market for distinguished cell phone numbers is great. “It was, however, much bigger before recession. The market has however started picking up.”

Al Hashimi said in 2007 a distinguished mobile number was sold for Dh385,000.

The value of a phone number varies depending on how many digits are similar, and in terms of sequence. He noted that the distinct mobile phone numbers provided by etisalat which begin with ‘050’ are deemed the most expensive, followed by du numbers depending on the figure that follows the du code ‘055’.

He claimed that he has an etisalat mobile number which is currently valued at Dh70,000 in the market. He also has a du number valued at Dh25,000.

Al Hashimi added that he is a subscriber to BBM service which always displays distinguished mobile numbers. A weekly auction brings a large number of subscribers to the said service, he added. They display their numbers to their guests so as to reap as much revenue as possible from these numbers.

Meanwhile, Omer Hassan said the trade in distinguished mobile phone numbers came to light early in 2000.

Hassan stated: “He who owned a distinguished mobile number in the past was seen as an influential and powerful person, but now things have changed as anyone can buy such numbers or subscribe to them monthly.”

Reasons for splurging

Citing the reasons which make some people buy such numbers for exorbitant prices, Hassan said some people want their cellphone numbers to match their cars number plates. At the same time, some buy a phone number in a specific sequence so that they can memorise it and also show how powerful they are.

“The unique mobile number culture is said to be more popular among GCC citizens and this has made trade move to certain countries like London and Thailand where they frequently visit. The trade in distinguished mobile numbers is common among people holding high posts, too. Such numbers cannot be sold easily and hence owners resort to online selling and through newspapers and other means,” said Hassan.

He said people are seen to gift such numbers to people they love. “A friend of mine gifted his wife a distinct mobile number worth over Dh200,000. However, the marriage did not last long and they divorced each other soon.”

“A distinguished number — be it a phone number or a number plate — is considered as giving its holder a unique character,” he added.

A distinguished number bears a moral value apart from its financial one,” Hassan said, adding that his father gifted him a distinguished mobile phone number 10 years ago. “When somebody asks me my phone number, I say it only once.”

The numeral ‘9’ is said to be a top favourite amongst youngsters, he added. “Whoever possesses a cellphone number containing the digit 9 repeated four times is lucky, fortunate and well-off, as he can sell it whenever he wants and at a price he desires.”

malzarooni@khaleejtimes.com



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