The third most expensive number plates in the world was sold in Abu Dhabi last week, ensuring the UAE remains vanity plate record holder. Number plates showing just the number '7' were sold for 17 million dirhams in a government auction.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the most expensive plate '1', was sold to Emirati businessman Said Khouri in 2008 for a staggering 52.2 million dirhams, or the equivalent of $14.2 million.
The second most expensive number plates, '5' were sold for 25.2 million dirhams, or $6.86 million, during a special number plate auction organised by the Emirates Auction Company in 2007. In total, 72 specialised number plates were sold on Saturday for a total of 50 million dirhams.
"I think it's a matter of recognition" said Muhammad Kashif, owner of the UAE Number Plates Company. "Just having a Rolls Royce isn't enough these days. People want exclusive number plates to go on the car."
Kashif said that the trend for personalised and distinctive number plates is so popular in the Emirates that those with a flare for the fanciful and a few dollars to spare will settle for something unique, if a little less glamorous.
Number plates in the UAE come by default with five digits, the fewer digits on the plate, the higher the price. Number plates with four digits can cost around 5,000 dirhams, ($1,300) but prices are pushed up for numbers that are memorable, in sequence ('5678') or all identical ('5555').