Abu Dhabi: Licence plate No 1 broke the world record as the most expensive, fetching a whopping Dh52.2 million in fierce bidding in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Saeed Al Khouri, 25, a businessman in Abu Dhabi, won the number plate after a furious contest in the final stages of the auction conducted at the Emirates Palace hotel.
He broke the record by paying more than double the previous record which went to plate No 5 that sold for Dh25.2 million and is owned by his cousin Talal Ali Mohammad Khouri, also a prominent businessman.
The money generated will be used to establish a specialised hospital in Abu Dhabi for accident victims.
Organisers had a tough time controlling the proceedings in the charged atmosphere.
Within minutes after the bidding began the price of the plate shot up to Dh26 million from the opening Dh1 million.
The officials celebrated the record-breaking moment by bursting crackers on the stage as six bidders fought over the rights furiously.
Al Khouri told Gulf News he was determined to purchase the plate at any cost. He said it was for his personal use and he has no intention to sell it. He said he will try again if the organisers introduce No 1 in other series.
Dh89m from 90 number plates
"The final value of the number plate auction exceeded our wildest hopes and dreams," said Abdullah Matar Al Mannaei, Managing Director of Emirates Auction, the official auctioneer for Code 5 distinguished number plate auctions, supported by the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police.
"Today we set not just one, but two records," said Al Mannaie, adding that the auction - the sixth organised by Emirates Auction - attracted 750 participants and generated a record Dh89 million from the sale of 90 number plates.
As of Saturday, Emirates Auction holds the record for the seven most expensive plates worldwide, including nine of the top ten. Plate No 1 was only the third single-digit plate to go on sale so far, and by far the most prestigious.
One of the winning bidders was 10-year-old Hazaa Seif Ali Hammadi, who bid Dh2.15 million for Plate No 51 on behalf of his father, Seif Ali Hammadi, an Abu Dhabi businessman.
All six two-digit plates sold for Dh2 million or more.
The excitement was palatable at times: whenever an important plate came to auction, the room turned dark and green lasers flashed. The audience clapped rhythmically to the music, cheered and shouted.
In an effort to outbid one another, bidders often stood up with their paddles raised high above their heads.
Along with No 1, a total of 90 distinguished licence plates were sold, including special numbers such as 96, 100, 212, 1111, 2001 and 31313
Although minimum bids for No 1 were fixed at Dh100,000, the bidding quickly exceeded Dh40 million which was the estimated price in local circles.
When the bidding for No 1 surpassed Dh47 million, the competition was limited to two people - Saeed Al Khouri and Yousuf Naser, a Dubai businessman.
Ultimately, Saeed Al Khouri triumphed with a bid of Dh52 .2million.
Have your say
How much are you willing to spend on a number plate? If you had more money, would you spend it on a special number plate or something else? Share your thoughts with us.
I do not think they do it for the 'cause', because if they did then they could have just paid the charity organisations directly and let others buy it for charity.
Posted: February 17, 2008, 14:57
I think these people buy expensive number plates because they are suffering from an identity crisis.
Posted: February 17, 2008, 14:41
A number plate that costs more than a vehicle. Indeed, a good effort to bring out money for a good cause. I would love to be part of it, if I had the money.
Posted: February 17, 2008, 13:29
I will not even pay Dh1 for any number plate.
Posted: February 17, 2008, 13:18
I think they should auction off cell phone numbers, since I have the best number in all of UAE.
Posted: February 17, 2008, 13:10
In Canada some provinces allow you to have personalised licence plates for an extra fee, if it has not been taken already of course. I play billiards, so for Christmas a few years ago, my wife bought me one that spells ''9 Ball ''. I would not sell it for a million. Unless the money was on the table!
Posted: February 17, 2008, 13:04
I would spend 1,000 euros for plate number 1000.
Posted: February 17, 2008, 11:29
I am not willing to spend much on a number plate. But I support this auction since it is for a good cause.
Posted: February 17, 2008, 11:21