DUBAI // A mobile phone number was sold for more than Dh8 million after a furious bidding war that lasted well over an hour.

In scenes that stretched credulity among guests at an auction at Festival City on Saturday night, bidding for the number 0522222222 rose at times by Dh500,000.

The final winner was identified himself as Mohamed Hilal. He said wasn’t going to the let the number sit unused for fear that the whole world might call him the next day asking for a loan.

“Yes, I’m going to use the number, with pride,” he said.

It is not known whether the winner bears any connection with the popular local perfumer, Mohamed Hilal Group.

The starting price was Dh250,000, but the tone was set early on with an initial bid of Dh1 million. The final sale price was Dh8,010,000.

The auction was among 70 distinctive numbers from du. Many numbers contained prized combinations like 2222, or 55555.

The lowest-priced sale was Dh18,000, while the second highest was sold for around Dh700,000.

Du’s chief commercial officer, Fahad Al Hassani, said the demand for unique, memorable numbers was prevalent across the country.

“There is a lot of good numbers for cars, and good numbers for mobile phones,” he said.

“We have had many situations where we can’t give people the numbers they want. We decided that the most fair way to deal with that is to offer 70 distinctive numbers and allow anyone to bid on them.”

He said the company would look closely at the popularity of the auction, and if successful, would consider hosting one every month.

A portion of the proceeds will go to two charities: Alam wa Amal on Sharjah TV, and Emarat El Kheir on Noor Dubai Radio Channel.

The number itself comes with a smartphone and a two year package of thousands of free hours of calls and data.

The auction follows one by Etisalat in March, which saw someone pay Dh7.877777 million for the phone number 0507777777.

Many of the attendees were seen pulling up to the auction earlier on in cars that had single or double digit number plates.

Mr Al Hassani said he couldn’t put his finger on why memorable numbers were so popular in the region.

“I’m sure there are advantages and disadvantages of having such a famous number,” he said.

“But there are all sorts of people with all sorts of hobbies and interests.”

source: thenational.ae