JEDDAH: An online Saudi government auction for custom license plates is attracting hundreds of bidders and raising millions.
The event aims to raise funds for the General Directorate of Traffic, which operates under the ministry and is responsible for certifying the license plates.
The four-category auction (bronze, silver, gold and diamond), began on Dec. 1, and has so far helped dozens of Saudi drivers mark their vehicles with exclusive, VIP plates.
Following several high-profile sales, millions of riyals have been raised for the benefit of the Interior Ministry. The diamond-category “9999 DDD” plate, for instance, sold for SR620,000 ($165,000) as the highest-priced product in the third edition of the online auction, which concluded Sunday.
The fourth auction began on Thursday and is scheduled to end on Jan. 2.
The auction page on the Absher portal displayed 24 registration plates within three categories, with 15 bidders competing to win the silver-category “11 HLH plate,” which had a bid of SR30,000 on Friday. The total value of all license plates in the fourth edition of the auction reached SR300,000.
The Absher portal, which provides more than 300 services, enables both citizens and residents to bid on license plates for private transport vehicles, including cars and motorcycles.
According to the conditions of the auction, new license plate owners should visit a traffic department site to register their plates to their vehicle within a period of 30 days after winning an auction.
The traffic department said that auction winners will receive their plates through the Saudi Post service. The department added that every bidder must pay a registration fee of SR1,000 before offering a price for a license plate.
Custom license plates are common among the wealthy in the oil-rich GCC region. High bidders often pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to customize their high-end vehicles with special plates.
In 2008, the world’s most expensive car license plate was sold at a UAE auction to Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri, who paid $14.2 million to win a plate bearing the number “1.” The auction secured a place in the Guinness World Records.
Khouri broke the 2007 record of Talal Ali, who won a $4.57 million bid on the plate number “5.”
In October 2016, Indian property developer Balwinder Sahni paid $9 million at a UAE government auction to win the plate “D 5” for his white Rolls Royce. He secured the plate “O 9” at a similar auction a year earlier.
When interviewed by CNN, the multimillionaire justified the costs by saying that the money would go to charity and toward improving infrastructure in Dubai — a city that he said “has given me a lot.”
To view the electronic plate auction on the Absher portal, visit: https://mazad.absher.sa/portal/auction-dashboard.