Sale of the year: $9 million for a license plate

Dubai-based Indian businessman Balwinder Sahani (C) looks on during an auction in Dubai on Oct. 8, 2016. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the most surprising sale of the year.

Not too surprisingly, it was for a Rolls Royce in Dubai.

What made the headlines, however, is how much the owner spent on the car’s license plate: $9 million.

Balwinder Sahani, a property developer in Dubai and self-proclaimed “simple man,” owns six Rolls-Royces, two of which have a single-digit license plate.

In Dubai, less digits on your plate is a symbol of status.

For Sahani, the $9 million (33-million dirham) plate, which simply reads “5”, is the second of his collection. Last year, he spent $6.7 million at a similar government auction for the “9” plate.

As impressive as those numbers are, they are far from the record, with an Abu Dhabi businessman having paid $14 million for a license plate which read “1” back in 2008.

Sahani sees the money he spends at the government auctions as a way of giving back to charity. Dubai has no income tax, and the money spent on the plates goes directly to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.

“I believe in giving back,” Sahani said. “This city has given me a lot.”