Friday, February 8, 2008

Gold plate

On 16th of February, officials from the Guinness Book of World Records will be in Abu Dhabi to witness the auction of exclusive number plates including the most elusive and sought after of all: an Abu Dhabi number 1.

Number 1 may break the world record as the most expensive number plate of more than 25.2 million Dhs (almost 7 million US$)

Number plates in the UAE bestow upon their owners their present rank in society - Ruler: number 1; immediate family: single digits; senior government officials: two digits; private company CEOs: three digits; Filipinos and other expats? 9698724.

Small wonder then that they attract such extraordinary value. The status of being labelled one of the top 200 individuals in the UAE is worth a great deal in UAE society and business.

But can it really be worth Dhs25 million or more? Surely a small proportion of this price can be put down as a business expense. The rest is pure vanity.

A clue to value can be found in other countries. In the UK, the record for the most expensive number plate ever sold was broken this week when an anonymous buyer paid £375,000 (Dhs2.73 million) for the plate ‘F1' (Bernie Ecclestone, perhaps?).

It seems that the British refuse to pay more for a number plate than they could spend on even the most expensive, customised Bentley or Rolls Royce on which to attach it.

There is clearly no such ceiling among the super rich of the UAE.

Maybe it is because cars in the UAE spend so much time in traffic jams, the value of their exterior fixtures is higher because people spend more time looking enviously at them

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