This post was originally published on 9 October 2016.
If you thought that only Arab millionaires pay exorbitant amounts for fancy number plates, here is something for you.
Dubai-based Indian businessman Balwinder Sahni has bought the most coveted number plate D5 for Dh33 million (around Rs 60 crores) at the Roads and Transport Authority’s number plate auction on Saturday.
Sahni, also known as Abu Sabah, is the owner of RSG International, a property management company, with interests in the UAE, Kuwait, India and the United States.
“I like collecting unique number plates and I am proud to have got this number,” Sahni reportedly told Gulf News.
“Because number 9 is my lucky number. D is the fourth letter in the alphabet and add that to 5, it makes 9,” he told Khaleej Times.
He also paid Dh1 million for another number plate in the same sitting. Last year Sahni bought the number O9 for Dh25m.
“I have collected 10 number plates so far and I am looking forward to having more. It’s a passion. This number will go to one of my Rolls Royces,” he added.
Most coveted number plate
The number D5 generated great interest among the participants with the bid starting at Dh20 million.
“People were increasing the bids in their hundreds of thousands, I was raising the bids by Dh1 million,” the 44-year-old, 10-year Dubai resident said.
After a fierce bidding war between 16 wannabe owners, Sahni reined successful in the bid. But why was he so adamant to get his hands on the plate?
Although he admitted it was a “tough bidding war”, he said he “had to win”.
“Dh50 million, Dh100 million, whatever the bidding would have reached, I would have bought it,” Khaleej Times reports Sahni as having said.
All for charity
All the money raised at the RTA auction will be going to charity. Apart from live auctions, RTA organises online plate auctions every month.
RTA also sells distinguished number plates for fixed prices and he said that the auctions help set the price.
Ahmad Hashim Behroozian, CEO of RTA’s Licensing Agency, said that apart from helping people make money, auctions help generate revenue for RTA’s never ending infrastructure projects.
“We usually have a lot of plate traders participating. Plate trading is big a business and a lot of people are making good money out of it. We also organise special auctions for traders and issue permits for plate trading,” he said.
In 2008, Emirati businessman Saeed Al Khouri paid Dh52.2m for Number 1 licence plate in Abu Dhabi, which so far holds the record for the costliest number plate in the UAE.