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What’s in a number?

December 4, 2019

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly What’s in a number?

The release of a new series of memorable licence number plates drove well-to-do car lovers and ‘numerophiles’ to the fourth public Mazad auction held at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay last weekend.

Up for auction were unique 64xxxx and 65xxxx series number plates, divided into Gold, Platinum and Diamond categories, with a minimum bid of BD100, BD500 and BD1,000 respectively. Twenty five plates were auctioned at the event which attracted more than 250 enthusiasts, organised by Mazad, a subsidiary of Mumtalakat, in cooperation with UAE-based Arabian Auctions.

Talal Aref Aloraifi, CEO of Mazad said: “Licence plate numbers have always been items of fascination and symbols of affluence in the Arab world. The Mazad public auctions, which started in 2017, formalise this and give car lovers a chance to get a unique licence plate soon after it is released. A unique licence plate is like jewellery for your car. And since most of these plates end up on premium badges like Mercedes, Porsche and Ferrari, it adds a note of elegance to the car.”

The highest winning bid at this year’s auction was BD76,000 for Platinum plate number 655555. The lowest winning bid was BD4,000 for Gold plate number 640640.

In addition, plates 640065 and 655564 were raffled off to two lucky entrants for the evening’s festivities.

Registering for the Gold and Platinum required a refundable deposit of BD1,000, while entry into the Diamond class demanded an open insurance cheque or credit card authorisation upon registration. The bidding itself got exciting, especially during the 655555-auction. When the bid crossed BD70,000, a new bidder who initially only signed up for the Gold and Platinum categories decided to enter the fray.

The bidder, who asked not to be identified, was authorised on the spot with a credit card machine being run over to his table.

In the first ever Mazad auction held, licence plate number 600000 was sold for BD360,000, a record-high amount to this day. According to Talal, the plate was for a Rolls-Royce Phantom, which for comparison’s sake, is sold fully loaded for BD225,000.

Mahmood Kelany, the principal of Arabian Auctions, the Bahrain subsidiary of Emirates Auctions, noted: “Across the GCC, there is a lot of interest in unique licence plates. Some people like to have a certain repeating number while others get the plate that matches their phone number.”

Bidders from across the GCC region gathered to participate in this event and vehicle plate number 644444 came in second place, having been sold for BD67,000 followed by plate number 650000 with a value of BD65,000.

A specimen of the cars the plates are likely to end up on was exhibited outside, including a Rolls-Royce Dawn and Phantom.

Hassan Hujiri, who secured 654456 for BD4,500 intends to pin the prize on his Porsche, while Mohammad AlHalwachi was unsure whether he would use his two won plates, 655550 for BD6,500 and 644449 for BD5,000 for his Lexus or resell them in the highly active secondary market.

The numbers sold at Mazad auctions are all newly minted and are made available to winners as soon as their payment clears, often within ten business days.

A few of the attendees who requested anonymity were bidding on behalf of highly influential businessmen, staying in touch with them by phone constantly throughout the auction.

The organiser of Bahrain’s online and offline auctions, Mazad was established in 2017 to facilitate market growth and optimise revenue for the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The revenue from its latest auction totalled BD564,000.

Talal concluded: “I would like to congratulate the successful bidders on their acquisitions and would like to thank Arabian Auctions for all their efforts and close cooperation with Mazad towards upgrading the auctions market in Bahrain through their expertise and in depth knowledge, which has enhanced the popularity of auctions and the substantial growth in returns. The procedures followed were implemented in accordance with the best international standards.”

Across the GCC, especially in Dubai, distinctive licence plates demand kingly sums. The record high in Dubai is AED33 million (BD3.4million) for a single digit Licence plate – D5, snagged by Dubai-based Indian businessman Balwinder Sahani, who considers himself “a simple man” – his two Rolls-Royce cars with single digit licence plates notwithstanding.

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