Is Your Reg Plate Worth More Than Your Car
When you can afford every new supercar in the world, the only thing that will set you above the rest of your equals is the numberplate – and in Dubai that means shelling out millions.
Due to an enormous increase in demand, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has begun hosting auctions where businessmen compete to adorn their luxury supercars with a much-prized "vanity plate".
The auctions opened in Dubai last week, and in the last three public openings alone the RTA has raised a jaw-dropping $50.3 million dollars.
The most expensive plate ever auctioned off – which simply reads "No 1" – was sold to Emirati businessman Saeed Abdul Ghafar Al Khouri for a staggering $18.6 million in 2008.
Other big buys include "D5", which was purchased for $11.7 million by property developer Balwinder Sahni, and "No 5", which was picked up for a cool $8.9 million by 25-year-old prince Talal Ali Mohammad Khouri.
Single numbers and letters often go for the highest prices, with many bidders keen to secure a plate that's instantly distinctive – a feat that's easier said than done in a city that boasts more than 26,000 millionaires, and where supercars are regularly left to collect dust.
To put these figures in comparison, the average Aussie wishing to bolt custom plates to their car is slugged $448 a year, a fee high enough to put most motorists off even considering it.
But for a certain sect of Dubai-based billionaires, the ownership of a unique numberplate is more than simply having a nice-looking car – it's about showing others that you're richer than them.
Bidders at the RTA auctions will frequently get into heated bidding wars, often raising the price of the number plate far above any vehicle they could hope to put it on.
According to Sultan Al Marzouqi, director of vehicle licensing at the RTA, the auctions aren't just a way for Dubai's businessman to flash their cash – they're also a valuable source of income for the government department.
"Auctions help generate revenue for RTA's never ending infrastructure projects," Al Marzouqi told the Khaleej Times.
"Lots of people buy those numbers for trading or investment purposes, or they are regarded as a statement of individuality - of being unique and special."
Some bidders say that these ultra-expensive plates have special meaning – for instance, Balwinder Sahini says he fought so hard for the coveted "D5" plate because it's his "lucky number".
For others, it’s simply a good investment because while you cannot guarantee the plate will hold its worth, you can guarantee that it will hold its exclusivity.
"It is a good investment I am making and I advise others to put their money in unique numberplates," said entrepreneur Waleed Abdul Khader, after dropping a cool $1.3 million on the plate "018".
When you are getting a valuation for your private registration number, think about the fact that certain types of number plate match will lead to much higher worth. These include plates that represent names, initials, models or makes of cars, or words.
The rarity and desirability of any combination of letters and numbers on a registration plate will essentially determine its value on the market. Bear in mind that there is only one version of every number plate in existence, so each is basically rare because it’s unique. But its value requires more than that exclusivity, it must also be worth something to somebody else. People will pay more for a good representation of their name than they will for an average representation of their initials, for instance, so how well a number plate depicts the word, interest, name or initials in question can add or subtract £hundreds or even more from its price tag.
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