The United Arab Emirates is home to some of the world’s limited edition vehicles as well as the top tier high-performance cars. Even its police units have a fleet composed of luxury vehicles. What do you expect from this oil-rich country, right? In this part of the world, it seems like expensive cars are a commodity rather than luxury.
However, this lavish lifestyle doesn’t just end there. Sure you can get yourself a Ferrari Enzo or a Ferrari LaFerrari strutting in UAE, but all these would pale in comparison to a Lamborghini Aventador with a plate number “1”.
Apparently in UAE as in most countries, license plates are considered a status symbol. Certain license plates cost higher than ordinary license plates and are even more expensive than the cars that they are attached to. Simply put, the whole practice revolves around the idea that if you can buy an expensive car, then you must be financially capable of buying an atrociously expensive license plate. Buying a pricey car shows you have money, but buying a special license plate is proof of just how outrageously wealthy you are.
The usual license plate consists of 5 random digits but drivers are given the opportunity to choose the digits. Certain numbers are even more expensive than others. For example, license plates ranging from 1 to 9 have a higher price as compared to double digit numbers from 10 to 99. Combinations such as 11, 22, 11111 (or repeating numbers) also have high values. Some people even buy special plates with digits that are significant to them, such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc. There are even those who match the license plate and the car (i.e. Ferrari 458 with a “458” plate).
In a recent auction event organized by Emirates Auction at the Jawaher Hall in the state of Sharjah, an Emirati businessman purchased the most sought after “1” license plate for eighteen times its reserve price. The said event was one of the biggest auctions organized in UAE with about 1,340 bidders in attendance, and amongst them was Arif Ahmad Al Zarouni who won the coveted “1”.
The said plate number sold for no less than 18 million UAE Dirham or about $4.9 million. In an interview with Al Zarouni, he says that it was always his life’s goal to be Number 1 and that he had no other intentions of buying other numbers. The license plate is for his personal use and has no plans selling it (too bad for those waiting in the wings).
A total of 60 special plates were sold including a “50” sold for 1.9 million Dirham, a “100” and “333” for 1.5 million Dirham, and “12” and “22” that fetched at 2.07 million and 2.08 million Dirham, respectively. The said auction generated an estimated 50 million Dirham or about $13.6 million. Proceeds of the said event will go to charity.
These purchases are not only used as status symbols but also as investments. The older the car gets, the lower its value (depreciation) while the older its license plate, the higher its value is. Abdulla al Mannaie, head of Emirates Auction, even adds that these plates are capable of increasing a person’s annual return in value to more than 20 percent, which is quite a great deal if you think about it. No wonder there are a lot of people who want to get their hands on these special plates. It’s a boon to both reputation and business so it’s actually quite reasonable when you consider it.