A Qatari man has paid more than QR3.5 million for a three-digit license plate with the number 411 during an auction at Katara Cultural Village last night.
In what organizers said was the first auction of its kind to take place in Qatar’s private sector, bidders spent a total of QR15 million on 30 “special” white and black license plate numbers.
The man who bought the most expensive plate spent a further QR2.72 million on two other license plates, for a total shopping bill of over QR6 million. The 157 and 158 plates sold for QR1.36 million each.
The bidder declined to be interviewed by media.
The auction was held at the AlBahie Auction House, which opened last month.
Those who participated in the auction had to submit a deposit of QR50,000. All bids started at a minimum price of QR150,000.
Previously, license plate auctions were held online by the Ministry of Interior (MOI).
Speaking to Doha News, Ashraf Abu Issa, co-founder of AlBahie Auction House, said: “This event could be great for business. It gives buyers and sellers a chance to meet.”
By the numbers
Another buyer paid for the second most expensive plate number of the night – 9999, which was purchased for a little over QR3.1 million.
Plate numbers up for sale varied between three, four, five and six digits.
Almost all four-digit plates involved 20th and 21st Century years such as 1990, 1969, 1985, 2014, etc.
The lowest price paid for a license plate number was QR260,000 to 30003.
Owning unique license plates and phone numbers are a common way of flaunting wealth and distinguishing oneself in the GCC.
In Qatar, auctions for such numbers take place regularly. In December for example, buyers spent some QR4.1 million for 25 “special” phone numbers auctioned off by Ooredoo during a charity event.
At the time, some bidders told Doha News that they were investing in a number that could be sold later for a higher price, and that they were also helping those in need.
However, last night’s auction was not for charity.
While many have previously criticized such auctions on social media, saying they encourage superficial thinking and narcissism, auction co-founder Abu Issa argued it was all a matter of personal taste:
“If you look at collectors around the world, you’ll see that it’s no different. A lot in the US collect baseball cards and coins, and many just sit in their safes, not using it.
In some countries some things are more popular than others. If you tell a Qatari about a baseball card or coin collection, he’ll say it’s stupid and superficial. Each society has a different view.”