UAE residents vie for special Dh2.9 million numbers

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Dubai - 48 mobile numbers currently up for sale have a total combined price value of more than Dh2.9 million.


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Tue 2 Aug 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 3 Aug 2016, 3:08 PM

Dh590,000, Dh275,000, Dh200,000. These may look like the price tags on a brand new sports car, or a yacht, but they're not. Instead, these digits almost match what they're buying - a VIP mobile phone number!
The demand for unique numbers is increasingly popular among UAE residents now. Whether it's a car plate or an easy-to-remember mobile number, the business of numbers is big.
When Khaleej Times got hold of a list of 48 mobile phone numbers currently up for sale from a broker here, its total combined price value hit more than Dh2.9 million. The lowest was valued at Dh1,900 and the highest, a staggering Dh590,000.
Though the federal government owns phone numbers, public auctions held by telecommunications companies allow residents to bid on VIP mobile phone packages. Depending on the uniqueness of the number and exclusivity of the package, the contract varies.
But the biggest draw of these packages is the special number that comes with it. Once the hammer comes down on the gavel, the new owner has the flexibility to switch the number's proprietor at any time, within the network.

Click to bid!
In the coming months, du will be launching an online auction service to complement its physical auction.
And this is where the big money is made.
Local businessman, Essa Al Hashimi, recently spent Dh35,000 at an auction for one of the many numbers he owns. For this particular one, he received an exclusive two-year phone contract, entitling him to a monthly tariff of 2,500 local minutes, 2,500 texts, 25 GB data and 100 international minutes.
"My plan is to sell the number after two years, on for about Dh40,000." That's a profit of Dh5,000, for zero effort.
With more than 15 mobile numbers to his name, Al Hashimi said their values vary. Some cost him Dh15,000 and others up to Dh35,000. But at one auction, he spent a staggering Dh100,000 on one package.
When it comes to selling the numbers later, he said the process is relatively simple, as the number comes with the flexibility of being swithced between proprietors, within the network.
For instance, if the owner signs up to a contract for 12 months, but chooses to transfer the proprietor after three months, the new owner will receive the same benefits for the remaining eight month contract. However, this is all depending on approval for change from the network itself.
Up for grabs - Numbers on auction (end date August 5, 2016)
05X 511 1111 - Dh170,000 - 16 bidders
05X 444 4447 - Dh150,500 - 4 bidders
05X 383 3333 - Dh59,500 - 23 bidders
05X 444 4484 - Dh55,000 - 12 bidders
05X 320 0000 - Dh51,500 - 5 bidders
05X 777 7747 - Dh31,500 - 21 bidders
*info dated August 2
So why are people willing to pay so much?
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Ahmad Aburahima, senior vice president for Government Relations at du, said the answer is simple. "People like unique numbers. That is why they bid on these packages."
He said the popularity of numbers varies according to people's interests and tastes. "The sequence of digits can be of particular importance, for specific reasons. For example, they may be similar to a special date, or a car plate."
Interestingly, more than 50 per cent of people who buy mobile numbers at du's auctions are non-nationals, he added.
A ringingly unique factor
With a vision to pioneer new ways of giving back to society, Aburahima said du's special number auctions have opened the doors for better customer satisfaction. "With each package comes a certificate of allocation as an added value. This means the number will not be withdrawn if not used, activated or if the bill was not paid, as is the case for numbers purchased outside the auction."
Although the demand for unique numbers is high in the UAE, he said he expects this demand to go down in a few years, as more numbers are being released onto the market.
50% of du auction buyers are non-nationals
48 numbers totalling Dh2.9m available for sale
Dh590k for broker's most expensive number

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