Balwinder Sahani
Dubai-based businessman Balwinder Sahani (center, in blue) won the auction for the D5 number plate STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

Balwinder Sahani has become the owner of one of the most expensive number plates in the United Arab Emirates after he purchased it for Dh33 million ($8.98m, £7.34m) at an auction by the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) on 8 October. The Dubai-based Indian businessman also won an auction for another plate for which he paid an additional $272,000.

"I have collected 10 number plates so far and I am looking forward to having more. It's a passion. This number will go to one of my Rolls-Royces," said Sahani, the owner of property management company RSG International.

"I like collecting unique number plates and I am proud to have got this number. I like number nine and D5 adds up to nine, so I went for it," he told Gulf News. Last year, the businessman bought the O9 number plate for Dh25m ($6.81m) at a charity auction.

This year's auction by the RTA grossed Dh66.68 million ($18.15m) with more than half of the total revenue being generated from the sale of four number plates — D5, Q77, P27, O111.

"This was the first time RTA offered a single digit number through a live auction, that is why it generated so much interest," said Ahmad Hashim Behroozian, CEO of RTA's Licensing Agency, which organises the auction. "This is easily the biggest auction we have seen so far. This auction has generated a lot of interest not just among regular buyers and traders, but a lot of young people who are interested in pursuing this business come here to learn the trade. This auction helps them understand the market and the prices."

Currently, the record for the most expensive number plate in the UAE is held by Emirati businessman, Saeed Al Khoury, who in 2008, paid Dh52.2m ($14.21m) for a No 1 licence plate in Abu Dhabi.