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'Abu Dhabi' car plate sells for Dh700,000

A Dubai-based expatriate bought the specialty license plate at auction for more than Dh700,000.

A car licence plate that resembles 'Abu Dhabi' has sold for more than Dh700,000 - a million dirhams less than expected.

The United Kingdom number plate reads AB11 DHB and had a reserve price at auction of 25,000 (Dh145,700), although it was expected to attract a bid of at least Dh1.7 million.

But after a bidding war against eight others, a Russian businessman who has worked in Dubai for 15 years secured it for 125,000 (Dhs728,500).

The plate was originally bought for just Dh2,300.

It is the first speciality plate bought by the businessman, who said several more interested him. "I enjoy exciting investments," he added.

The failure to reach the expected high price could be blamed on a number of factors, said MI Khan, chief executive of MIK Legal Consulting, the Dubai company that organised the sale.

"We were instructed by the seller to accept bids in pounds sterling and this may have amounted to confusion when placing the highest bids," he said. "The other crucial factor was that we did not have enough time to market the plate and a lot of UAE nationals were not aware of the sale."

The price tag paled in comparison with others paid by UAE buyers. In 2008, the plate 1 was bought for Dh52m by Saeed Abdel Ghaffar Khouri, 25.

Ali Kaddas, an Emirati businessman with six cars, two motorcycles and a dirt bike, said anyone who calls himself a motor enthusiast knows the importance of a licence plate.

"Maybe this businessman took it as an investment, but for some it is lucky or shows their personality," he said.

An Emirati could eventually own the plate, said Mr Khan.

"The buyer believes that the plate has not achieved its full potential and with time and correct marketing within Abu Dhabi he can yield a significant return on his investment," he said.

The buyer agreed, saying: "I hope to resell in the summer, when many of the UAE nationals holiday in London. I am confident we will achieve a high sale price."

zalhassani@thenational.ae

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