UK-registered 'UAE 50' number plate 'could break record'

Bids have begun for registration number in England that is older than the Emirates

A car registration number - UAE 50 - is attracting bids from across the globe in an online auction that experts claim could break a record.

The number plate is owned by a private collector in the UK and is registered with Britain's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - not in the UAE.

But it is being marketed as the ultimate accessory for luxury car owners, including those who descend on London each summer, taking their supercars with them.

Experts said the link with the UAE's golden jubilee celebrations could set off huge offers for the plate originally issued in 1955 in Bristol, making it older than the Emirates.

A copy of the plate is with Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan, a motoring historian who is advising the British owner and connecting him with potential buyers in the Emirates. The anonymous owner bought the plate last year, sensing an opportunity to make a shrewd investment.

He currently has the plate on a grey electric Porsche Taycan.

It’s not a plate significant only for the golden jubilee, it’s a plate for life
Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan

“It couldn’t have come at a better time as we celebrate the golden jubilee of the formation of the UAE and the Expo will be kicking off in October,” Mr Khan told The National.

“It has been generating a lot of interest from collectors, investors and enthusiasts.

“You cannot put an exact value to a plate like this but I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes on to break the world record that stands in Abu Dhabi for the number 1 plate at Dh52.2m ($14.2m).

“It’s not a plate significant only for the golden jubilee, it’s a plate for life.”

Enthusiasts can log onto for details and to make an offer.

The plate can be fitted on a car driven in the UK as it is a DVLA registration but could be brought back to the Emirates for display.

Mr Khan hopes the plate will be bought by a UAE resident due to the strong interest in distinctive numbers in the country.

Wealthy visitors from the Gulf, including the UAE, go to London every summer in what has become known as the supercar season.

They take their luxury cars with them on holiday and these can be seen lining the streets of swanky West End areas.

“I would love to see someone from the UAE acquire the number plate. It could be someone from the Emirates who puts it on their car when visiting England,” said Mr Khan, who has been working with the collector on curating vintage cars he owns.

“It’s a favourite visiting ground for UAE nationals and expats. They take their exotic cars with them. They can have UAE 50 on the supercar they drive in central London.”

Unique plates have previously sold for millions of dirhams in the UAE.

Rich spend big on unique car digits

Nine of the world’s top 10 winning bids have been from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Unlike plates in the West that feature both letters and numerals, those in the Emirates have just numbers.

A single digit number indicates the owner is an elite wealthy circle with lower numbers indicative of a higher price.

Sequenced and repetitive numbers also have special value.

A Dubai number plate 5 was bought by a property developer Balwinder Sahni for Dh33m at a 2016 public auction and installed on a pearl white Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The highest paid to date has been the UAE AD 1 sold in 2008 for Dh52.2m.

Other plates to make the top 10 are single digit Dubai and Abu Dhabi plates 9, 5, 7 and 2 that sold for between Dh10m and Dh25m.

At number 10 is a Hong Kong plate 28 that went for £1.6m ($2.2m).

The records in the UK may not be quite as high but have been substantial.

A Ferrari dealer paid more than £500,000 for plate 25 O for his Ferrari 250 GTO.

In 2009, a British businessman paid £440,000 to buy the Formula One initials when he picked up an F1 number plate.

The offers for UAE 50 have not been revealed as Mr Khan said the bids are confidential.

The plate was mentioned in a 2018 book titled Car Number Classics that has information and illustrations on the history of motoring and number plates in the UK.

“People fancying or yearning for number plates is a global phenomenon,” he said.

“It’s mistaken that this is only in the Middle East. What makes the UAE stand out is the staggering values we are willing to pay for plates. In the US, people have their name on a number plate. People here look for special numbers.

“One this is for sure, none can match the gravity and seriousness with which UAE citizens and expats go for these plates.”

Updated: July 6th 2021, 12:11 PM