UAE: Why some people spend millions to bag 'the best number plate in the world'

At least eight out of the 10 most expensive plates in the world have been sold in the Emirates

By Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Fri 22 Apr 2022, 7:41 AM

Last updated: Fri 22 Apr 2022, 11:21 PM

As the UAE has raised over Dh 161 million in a series of charity auctions of unique number plates and mobile numbers in the last few days, it has become apparent that the country’s appetite for special numbers has only increased.

At least eight out of the 10 most expensive number plates in the world have been sold in the country. Why do some people spend millions on a vehicle plate?

“For me, it is the charity aspect of it,” said Balwinder Sahni, the owner of the prestigious D5 number plate in Dubai, which he bought for Dh 33 million in 2016. “I am absolutely thrilled that I am able to give back to society in a unique way. I like having unique numbers. My lucky number is 9. The value of Roman numeral D is 4. The sum of 4 and 5 adds to 9. That is why I bought D5.”

Sahni has also shelled out Dh4.5 million for an exclusive mobile number and Dh 25 million for the number plate O-9.

According to Omar Matar Al Mannai, Executive Director of Emirates Auction, people are becoming more aware of the value of the plates and their ‘distinctiveness’.

“This has led to an increase in the popularity and ownership of unique plates,” he said. “We have sold over 13 of the top 15 most expensive license plates in the world. In fact, we currently hold the world record for auctioning the top 3 most expensive plates.”

There are many reasons why people opt to buy these fancy number plates. “For most owners it’s the personalisation, uniqueness and distinctiveness of the license plates,” he said. “The number could be a favourite, date of birth or other life event. Some like to make a statement while others just want to stand out.”

“For certain others, it is an investment. Given that the license plates are distinct and limited in quantity, we’ve seen the value of plates increase over the years.”

Not surprisingly, Emirates Auction gets several repeat customers. “Many individual bidders participate and buy plates to adorn their additional vehicles,” he said. “But the majority of our repeat clients are dealers and collectors. There does exist a secondary market of license plate dealers who buy & sell license plates outside of auction.”


When asked if there was another dream number plate, Balwinder Sahni said: “I have the best number plate in the world. So, then why should I dream of another?”

It is for the second time in two weeks, that number plates enthusiasts came out in full swing to contribute to a charitable cause. A total of Dh111 million was raised by Abu Dhabi Police at the Most Noble Numbers charity auction.

The previous week, Dubai collected a total of Dh53 million in less than two hours, with the number plate AA8 being sold at Dh35 million to become the third-most expensive plate in the world.

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