The value of "vanity licence plates" climbed to new heights on Saturday when a car licence plate with nothing but the number '1' on it was bought for Dh52.6 million by an Abu Dhabi-based businessman at a charity auction in the Emirati capital.
"I bought it because it's the best number," said Saeed Abdul Ghafar Al Khouri, a member of a prominent Abu Dhabi family that made its fortune in real estate. "I bought it because I want to be the best in the world."
Khouri refused to reveal how many cars he owned and which one of them will carry the record-breaking single digit plate.
Vanity licence plates, as they are popularly called, are a series of unique car licence plates which the state auctioneers in the UAE began auctioning off since last May.
But unlike ordinary car plates issued to drivers here and most other vanity series plates which carry both Arabic and Western numerals and script, defining the issuing city and country, Khouri's plate had only the Western numeral and no letters.
The record sale surpassed that of its predecessor, an Abu Dhabi licence plate that had just the number '5' on it - also no Arabic numerals or letters - and which is owned by Emirati stock broker Talal Khouri, according to officials at the Emirates' state-run auction house.
After Talal Khouri, who is no relation to Saeed, plopped down Dh25 million for it at an earlier auction, the plate adorned his prized Rolls-Royce.
Proceeds from the vanity plate auctions, held in a lavish hotel in Abu Dhabi, go to a rehabilitation center for victims of traffic accidents.
On Saturday, 90 licence plates were auctioned off in all, raising a total of Dh88m. The previous five such events raised more than Dh183.5m. (AP)
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