Qatar residents who are willing to shell out thousands of riyals to own a unique vehicle license plate have until tonight to submit a bid for one of 19 “fancy” numbers up for sale.
The online auction run by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) follows previous sales of special mobile phone numbers for considerable amounts of money.
There are 19 plate numbers up for grabs, all of which start with the number 3 and include repetitive numbers or sequences.
So far, QR200.4 million ($55 million) has been bid for number 333355.
Bid prices are expected to increase over the course of the day, with the auction coming to a close at 10pm tonight.
Paying a premium for an easy-to-remember phone or vehicle number is common practice in the Gulf.
The most sought-after figures tend to be those that include repeated numerals or something of personal significance, such as a date of birth.
Qatar’s largest telecom provider, Ooredoo, set what was then a Guinness World Record in 2006 for the sale of the world’s most expensive phone number. The number 666-6666 was bought for QR10 million ($3.65 million).
Separately, a Qatari businessman reportedly purchased an easy-to-remember, unlisted number for QR1.4 million ($384,473) at an auction held in 2012 by Ooredoo, then known as Qtel. All together, the auction collected a sum of QR13.15 million ($3.61 million) for charity.
The Peninsula previously reported an official at the Ministry of Business and Trade as saying:
“The craze is mostly among the younger and unmarried people … they have no family responsibility so they tend to splurge their earnings on such things.”
Elsewhere, a mobile phone number auction in the UAE earlier this year raised Dh20 million (QR19.83 million) for charity, according to The National. The most sought-after number at the sale was 777-7777, which was purchased for Dh7.88 million (QR7.81 million).
The auction in Qatar for the 19 license plate numbers began at 1am on Nov. 11, with minimum bids of QR100,000 ($27,462).
The MOI is running the offering through its Metrash2 application, which requires users to enter their ID number and expiration date before clicking on “Significant Plates Auction” under the traffic services tab.
Successful bidders who fail to claim their purchase within two days of the auction’s closing will be hit with a QR20,000 ($5,492) fine and lose the rights to their special license plate.