Better news from parliament

For a change, I happily read a small article in Al-Waqt this morning which reports that the Foreign Affairs Permanent Committee at the House of Representatives has agreed to allow the auctioning off of vanity number plates [Arabic]. The proceeds of those bi-annuals auctions are going to be used to care for road accident victims.

For those who don’t know, us Bahrainis are completely obsessed with “nice” numbers, be they for the car, phone or anything else they have some control over. You could see these numbers available for sale in the freely distributed advertising magazines with some number plates fetching upwards of BD3,000 (4 numbers) while I heard that 3 numbers number plates fetch BD10k+ – if you can get the personal release of the prime minister to purchase such a plate that is (disclaimer: this last part is hearsay and I cannot confirm it, he might not be involved in such a mundane thing, but this is what I heard anyway)

Zain – which is the communications company formerly known as Vodafone – capitalised on this mania. They successfully auctioned off some special numbers a few of years ago and raised quite some cash for local charities. Does Batelco do this sort of thing too? No idea, but they should if they don’t. It’s a ready market and an easy way to raise much needed funds to cash-strapped charities.

I must applaud the Foreign Affairs Committee for approving such a law. I don’t know who initiated it and I don’t particularly care, it’s a Good Thing™ and this might be the only Good Thing™ that parliament actually will be remembered by.

  • Mohd Yusif
    8 May 2008

    I don’t really understand this obsession with “nice” numbers and I would never be able to find justification for spending hundreds or even thousands of dinars on a number, be it my car number plate, mobile phone number etc. I think us bahrainis reek of self importance and have an unhealthy obsession with image. We all want to be sheikhs and VIPs.

    I think it’s pathetic.

  • ammaro
    8 May 2008

    the concept of it is pathetic… its mostly a status symbol thing and somehow people who cant afford the next service for their car prefer to go out there and buy a number plate to show their ‘VIPness’.

    But anyway, it will continue to happen regardless, so to actually capitalize on it and put it to a good use is always welcome. UAE’s been doing it for a while, about time we did it here.

    If the PM has anything to do with it, it’s probably because the ‘elite’ of the country wanted to keep 3 numbers and shorter a unique commodity between themselves. Normally nowadays, you wouldnt be able to purchase a 3 digit, 2 digit or single number digit and register it under your name unless you were a member of a ‘specific’ family.

  • mahmood
    8 May 2008

    I know quite a number of people, some with quite humble means, who have 3 digit number plates and they are not from the ruling family.

    But the majority, of course, are.

    What Dubai is doing is selling even the 3 digit number plates but I don’t know what they do with the proceeds.

  • I love Bahrain
    8 May 2008

    A 3 digit number ending with 00 was sold a couple of weeks ago for BD200,000. Some 4 digit numbers can fetch more than BD25,000. If this proposal goes through only 6 digit new numbers will be auctioned cos the traffic department doesn’t have 3 or 4 digit numbers.

  • Ahmedo
    8 May 2008

    I think ppl should be able to spend their money as they please. It is not my business or yours, no matter how “wasteful” you might think it is.

  • Mohd Yusif
    8 May 2008

    But anyway, it will continue to happen regardless

    Great! That means I’m going to have continue waiting in line whilst the blonde wannabe bimbo stalls the entire outlet because she cant make up her mind on what number looks the prettiest!

    I wanted a random and particularly long number for my car because:

    i) I don’t want any unwanted or unnecessary
    attraction, and people pass judgment based on number plates – yes – including law enforcement

    ii) Makes my number plate harder to recognize or jot down when i screw up! ๐Ÿ˜†

  • Mohd Yusif
    8 May 2008

    Whoops I meant attention not attraction ๐Ÿ˜ณ

  • Capt. Arab
    8 May 2008

    Even when it comes to mobile numbers, you normally dial a number from a name list and hardly input numbers individually, unless it’s a one time call.
    Let’s not all fool ourselves, if anyone can get a nice sequential number without much effort then why not??
    We have a couple of 4 digit number plates in the family (which we got donkey years ago in the 70’s and 80’s) by normal registration at traffic, and they all happen to be on cars over 10 years old.. We always get stopped by people asking if we wanna sell the car, when in fact it’s the number they are after.
    at the end of the day, we are all just a number.. Can I get a decent CPR number?

  • Nine
    8 May 2008

    Actually the whole world is crazy about “nice” numbers be it for cars or mobiles. Companies too go for nice telephone numbers. It makes commercial sense. This is not something unique to Bahrain or Dubai. In Hong Kong they are even more crazy about nice numbers since the Chinese consider certain numbers to be auspicious and therefore, good to have. Car number plates go for even carzier prices there!

    It is great that the government is finally selling these numbers to the highest bidders. This is the norm in many countries such as the UK where car number plates are routinely auctioned off and are regular features in the newspapers.

    Capt Arab,
    The reason people stop you on the road is simple; they think you are poor and stupid (sorry) in your old cars and they could easily get a bargain out of you. Drive an expensive car with a nice number plate and see if anybody would approach you! I bet you nobody will!

  • Sadek
    10 May 2008

    Excuse me but does the “Foreign Affairs Permanent Committee” of the House of Representatives have to do with number plates? There is absolutely no connection between number plates and foreign affairs. I guess they have nothing better to do than hassling Haifa, mannequins, alcohol and gays.

  • mahmood
    10 May 2008

    The full name of the committee is the Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee and the traffic department falls under their purview.

  • Sadek
    10 May 2008

    “Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee” – walla ajib, that traffic falls under this very important sounding committee. Traffic has nothing to do with defence, national security or foreign affairs – live and learn.

  • Sam
    18 May 2008

    If you have a look at the traffic directorate’s website, their official title (which you’ll see on printed matter too) is… *takes a deep breath*

    Kingdom of Bahrain
    Ministry of Interior
    General Directorate of Traffic and Licencing

    In Australia, the authority is simply known as the RTA, as it is in the UAE as well. Plain and simple.

Gudaybia School of Booze, Witchcraft and Wizardry