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First with Financial Comment from Arabia

UAE mobile phone numbers valued higher than a Porsche

with 2 comments

If you are the lucky owner of UAE mobile phone number 050 888 8889 congratulations, you could sell your number for $134,000.

I had heard of car number plates selling for high prices before, and in the UAE the licensing department donates the proceeds to charity. But mobile phone numbers, that does seem excessive!

Top number

A young national friend showed me his mobile number, which I will not repeat, which is apparently worth twice as much as his turbo-charged Porsche 911. Apparently a man had recently offered to buy it, seemingly for his own use.

Yet this trade reminds me very much of the dot-com names in 1999-2000 when you could trade in a good name with .com after it, and people made money by registering and trading names.

In economic boom times value is often attached to things that have no practical value. One thinks of the Dutch tulip mania of the 1650s, for example, or stamp collections in the 1970s. I was a victim/participant of the latter and still have my worthless collection of mint UK stamps.

So mobile numbers should be seen in the same context, and the investment rationale is there. The concept is the one of always being able to sell to a greater fool (than you!).

Trading numbers

In the case of the UAE phone number buyer he is probably a trader, and sells the numbers on to somebody richer than himself with an eye for a nice number, perhaps a man who is so rich that he has nothing better on which to spend his money.

But this sort of phenomenon is normally relatively short lived and signals a booming economy in extremis. Nationals buying numbers should beware, they could end up with a worthless number one day, just like my stamps!

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Written by Peter Cooper

April 28, 2008 at 4:08 pm

2 Responses

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  1. This was indeed just a few months before the Dubai boom went bust!

    Peter Cooper

    July 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm

  2. With apologies to the gentlemen who just bought me lunch!

    peterjcooper

    April 28, 2008 at 4:23 pm


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