The fourth public auction for vehicle numbers held at the Four Seasons Hotel last month released the new 64xxxx and 65xxxx series.
Organized by Mazad along with Arabian Auctions, the auction was a success with total revenue of BD 564,000. Twenty-five number plates were put up for auction under Gold, Platinum and Diamond categories. Gold and Platinum required a refundable deposit of BD 1000 while Diamond class required an open insurance cheque or credit card authorization for registration.
The event concluded with the highest bid of BD 76,000 for the number 655555. The number 600000, sold for BD 360,000 holds the record for the highest bid in Bahrain. This number, however, adorns a Rolls Royce Phantom, sold fully-loaded for BD 225,000, a price lower than the number plate. In fact, people have begun spending more on number plates than on the car itself.
What is it that makes people spend hefty sums on these number plates? Spending 33 million Dirhams on ‘5’, Dubai-based Indian businessman, Mr. Balwinder Sahani says that he is giving back to the city which has given him so much as he believes that the money will be spent on charity and improving the city’s infrastructure.
Saeed Abdul Ghafour Khouri from the UAE placed a bid of 52.2 million dirhams for the plate number ‘1’ in 2008 which continues to hold the world’s record for the highest bid. The auction was organized by the Abu Dhabi Police Department to raise funds for the victims of car accidents.
Mazad, established in 2017, also serves a similar purpose and aims at facilitating market growth and optimizing revenue for the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Heavily prized vehicle numbers are considered as investments by those who buy them and to date investing in number plates seems to have yielded a good return. Abdullah Al Hamadi, a well-known buyer and bidder in the UAE, bought a number plate for 12 million Dirhams which was sold later for 28 Million Dirhams – an easy 14 Million Dirham profit!
There are even people who take loans to buy these car numbers at the auctions. Sometimes it’s the peer pressure of being a part of the ‘Rich League’ and show off social status. There has been instances where the bidder was only able to pay the security deposit and not the entire amount of these highly expensive number plates.
According to Mazad CEO, Talal Aref Aloraif, Arabs have always had a fascination towards vehicle numbers, which for them are symbols of affluence. His opinion is backed by the success in the vehicle number auctions since its inception in 2017.