Limited edition Abu Dhabi No 1 plate sells for Dh31 million

The auction offered 50 vehicle plate numbers that featured an exclusive category “50” in the top left of each plate to commemorate the government’s jubilee.

Abdullah Al Mahri bids for his Dh31m plate. Vidhyaa for The National
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ABU DHABI // A No 1 limited edition licence plate commemorating Abu Dhabi Government’s Golden Jubilee was sold to an Emirati for Dh31 million on Saturday at Emirates Palace hotel.

The winning bidder for the coveted plate, Abdullah Al Mahri, 32, said he bought it in honour of the country’s Rulers, who worked tirelessly to make the UAE No 1 in the world.

“I’m very proud to get No 1, especially for this golden jubilee, 50 years of the Abu Dhabi Government. I’m very proud and I’m very happy,” Mr Al Mahri said.

Fifty plates featured an exclusive category “50” in the top left of each plate to commemorate the Government’s jubilee.

Hosted by Emirates Auction in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Police, organisers hoped the auction would break the world record for the world’s most expensive plate.

That was set in the capital in 2008 when a No 1 plate was sold for Dh52.5m. The sale was still a success, Emirates Auction chairman Abdullah Al Mannai said of the Dh99 million raised at the auction.

“We received more than I expected,” said Mr Al Mannai. “We exceeded our numbers, the audience was bigger. Every country has a series of numbers and this is the first time there was a series released just for a limited number in the UAE.”

Other numbers to fetch high winning bids included plate No 7, which sold for Dh13.4m to a young Emirati bidding in proxy for a buyer who wanted to celebrate the seven emirates – and because it is a lucky number.

One of the early bidding wars erupted for plate No 11. The opening bid started at Dh240,000 but the price tag quickly escalated to Dh6.15m as a young Emirati boy kept raising the bid. No 50 was also a big-ticket item, selling for Dh6.8m.

Although clearly a status symbol and show of wealth, low-numbered vanity plates in the UAE have also become a reliable investment, bidders said.

“You get it now and you sell it a few years later, maybe double the price,” said Mahmoud Ali, a Canadian resident. Mr Ali said many of his friends had “flipped” their vanity plates for a profit.

Fatima Al Hammadi, one of a handful of Emirati ladies who took part in the auction, said she wasn’t motivated by future returns on her investment when seeking to buy No 50050. She just wanted a “unique” number to hang on her new Mercedes-Benz E Class.

“I will have my new car and I need a special number for it,” said Ms Al Hammadi.

The winning bidders will not be awarded the ownership certificate and declared the true owners of the plates until make the full payments this week, Emirates Auction said.