A wealthy bidder has splashed out a world-record 55 million dirhams ($15 million or 123 crores) for a rare car license plate in Dubai, smashing a bar set in the United Arab Emirates more than a decade ago.
The UAE is famous for its unique vanity plates that can be customized with different numbers, letters, or symbols to identify vehicles and show off their status and wealth. They can cost millions of rupees and are typically sold at auctions in the Middle East.
During this year’s most recent edition of the most expensive number-plate auction in the world, Dubai’s Four Seasons Hotel, a VIP car number plate with the number P 7 went under the hammer for a record 55 million dirhams (Rs122.6 crore), setting a new Guinness World Record. It was purchased at the ‘Most Noble Numbers’ charity auction, which saw many other special plates and exclusive mobile phone numbers sold simultaneously.
On Saturday night, the bidding started at 15 million dirhams and soared to over 30 million within seconds. Then it stagnated at 35 million before finally reaching the 55 million mark by French Emirati businessman Pavel Valeryevich Durov, founder of the messaging app Telegram.
The crowd cheered loudly and applauded as each bid was placed, with a few more coming in as the auction progressed. The buyer is anonymous, but the money raised will help support the ‘1 Billion Meals Endowment’ campaign launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, to establish the largest Ramadan sustainable food aid endowment fund.
This auction is the fifth in a series of similar events that have raised $56 million for charities. The first was in 2008, when Abu Dhabi’s number 1 license plate, purchased by local businessman Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri, was sold for 52.2 million dirhams.
While the P 7 number plate fetched the highest price at the auction, plenty of other unique plates were on offer, including ten double-digit numbers, like AA19, AA22, AA80, O71, X36, W78, H31, Z37, J57, and N41. In addition, other two-digit numbers like Y900 and Q22222 were also sold.
Many other special license plates and exclusive phone numbers were auctioned at the same event, with proceeds given to a local food appeal for Ramadan. The event was hosted by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, in association with Emirates Auction and with the support of Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.
The event was held on Saturday, April 8, at the Four Seasons Resort Dubai, Jumeirah Beach. Among the auctioned numbers were ten double-digit plates and other special plates like Y900, Q22222, and Y6666.
Several other single-digit plates were also up for grabs at the same auction, as well as other VIP license numbers. The sale of these plates helped raise 97,920,000 dirhams to help the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority feed people in the city during Ramadan.