When it comes to being filthy rich, spending lavishly, and flaunting wealth in as public a means as possible, the Arab upper classes along the oil-soaked Persian Gulf are second to none. But even this might be a new high for conspicuous consumption in the GCC. In Kuwait, someone spent 210,000 Kuwaiti Dinars to reserve a cell phone number. That's about equivalent to $750,000 U.S. dollars. The phone number in question: 5555-5555.
The buyer reserved the phone number at a public auction. The bidding price for the number began at 100,000 Kuwaiti Dinars, or $356,000 USD.
Gulfnews.com's Habib Toumi calls this a "vanity number" and says it just one more way to flaunt wealth in "prestige-conscious Kuwait City." Toumi reports that $750,000 isn't even the record.
The concept of vanity mobile numbers reached its pinnacle in May 2006, when the number 666 6666 was auctioned in Qatar for Dh9.9 million. The bidding started at one million riyals, but interest quickly narrowed from eight to just two bidders.
That record of 9.9 million United Arab Emirates Dirham translates to 2.7 million U.S. dollars in today's exchange rate. The fact that Qatari numbers have one less digit than in Kuqait means that phone numbers are scarcer and thus more expensive. At least we're hoping that's the explanation for multi-million dollar phone number. If anyone along the Persian Gulf would like to purchase The Atlantic Wires's office phone numbers, we are prepared to go as low as $100,000 per extension.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.