Sunday, September 18, 2011

Going once, Going twice, SOLD!

So one of the many quirks of the UAE is not just that there is a maserati, porsche, or ferrari around every corner but what is on the car that is unique.  In the UAE the locals do not only show their status with the car they drive but rather the number on their license plates.  The elite have the lowest of low numbers on their exotic sports cars and yesterday the license plate auction took place.  The exciting auction all went down at the illustrious Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi where locals spent hundreds, thousands, of dirhams on sentimental license plate numbers.

In The National this morning there was an article that discussed this thrilling event.  One gentleman spent 120,000 AED to get the same number he has had since he was 17.  That is a little less than $33,000.  This is an imperative event in the Emirati world, one gentleman in the article said, "With a unique three-digit number, everything changes.  You get special treatment, people look at you differently. You are treated like you are something big."  Back in 2008 a man spent $14.3 million for Abu Dhabi's plate number "1."  I must mention that the proceeds do go to a local charity here in the UAE to benefit car accident victims.

This got me thinking, do we have practices like this back in the states?  Or is this just something unique to the Middle East.  I know people are into comic books, art collections, stamps, spoons, elephants, scarves!  But license plates?  What sort of expendable status symbols do we spend exorbidant amounts of money on?  I am scratching my head on this one, but I must admit when we are out tooling around I am always checking out the plates just to see how low our highway neighbors will go.  


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