A private auction to sell a British number plate spelling out "Abu Dhabi" has kick-started a fierce bidding war between several "big names" from the UAE.
The registration number, AB11 DHB, was originally bought for about £400 (Dh2,300) and could now possibly fetch more than Dh1.7 million, according to MIK Legal Consulting, the Dubai company handling the auction.
M I Khan, head of the company, said he was "not surprised" at how the sale was going. "Abu Dhabi motoring enthusiasts are the most passionate in the world," he said.
He said the reserve price of £25,000 was crossed within a few hours.
He dispelled suggestions Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, was among the seven bidders, saying only the bidders were "private enthusiasts" with "some big names involved".
"There is a little bit of speculation that two of the current bidders are trying to purchase this plate with the plan to gift it to his highness," he said.
The plate's current owner bought it from the UK's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency with the intention of a "big sale", according to Mr Khan.
Paolo Rossetti, a UAE car expert, said while spending so much on a number plate might seem a "narcissistic folly", it "actually translates into a smart business decision".
"If the UAE-based VIP number plate auctions are any guide, the winning bidder can expect the value to appreciate over the next few years," he said.
The sale will close on February 19.