rolls-royce
A Dubai-based Indian property developer paid $9 million during a government auction for a highly coveted number '5' license plate for one of his Rolls RoycePixabay

Indian businessman and Dubai property developer Balwinder Sahni dropped 33 million dirhams — or $9 million — to purchase license plate No 5 at a government auction in October, Bloomberg reports.

The No 5 plate now adorns one of Sahni's six Rolls-Royce cars, according to CNN Money. The wealthy businessman also owns a No 9 license plate, which he purchased with a winning bid of 24.5 million dirhams — or $6.7 million — in 2015. The No 9 plate is also affixed to one of Sahni's Rolls-Royce cars.

CNN Money says he has two additional Rolls-Royces on order, which will bring his collection of the luxury cars to eight.

Sahni described himself to CNN Money a "simple man." He says he's gotten a lot of attention and photo requests since he purchased the No 5 license plate for $9 million.

The record for the most money spent on a license plate in the United Arab Emirates goes to businessman Saeed al-Khouri. Bloomberg says in 2008, al-Khouri dropped 52.2 million dirhams — or $14.2 million — to purchase the No 1 license plate.

Bloomberg says the proceeds from the license plate auctions go to Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority.

A secondary market has also emerged to satisfy the desire of rich Emiratis looking to get their hands on unique license plates. One such website, number.ae, sold a two digit plate for $735,000—its biggest deal yet.

The website's co-founder, Abdulkerim Arsanov, hopes to capitalise on this renewed interest in luxury license plates with hopes to expand into markets in the US and Russia.

"Number plates have become more luxurious than the cars themselves," Arsanov told CNN.