Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Needle in the Number plate

A red Range Rover's rather unusual license plate might have caught your eye for a reason, but the history of license plates in UAE is no less intriguing.


In the year 1940, though the UAE was virtually non-existent, there existed license plates which looked like these according to some sources.

By this time, the name of the Emirate started appearing on the number plates, mostly in Arabic and each emirate followed different standards as to their implementations for taxis, municipalities and for the members of the royal families.

The vertical divider was introduced as English made an appearance and the practice is followed till date unlike in other Arab nations. This series was considered valid till 1985.

All emirates except Dubai introduced a new layout often referred to as 'the quartered Arabic style'.

Dubai sticked to the 1970 series until they introduced their own version 2 years later.

Although no radical changes were introduced by Dubai from the 1970-series a stardardisation took place in terms of manufacturing and customisation for other entities.

During the 80's, Dubai developed rapidly and for some reason a black on yellow segment was introduced for numbers plates above 100000. (Dubai Series 1)


Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain now got rid of the horizontal divider on the left, thus making it 3 sections.

Fujeirah and Sharjah removed the horizontal divider altogether.

Abu Dhabi introduced the four-colour series inlcuding a grey left segment apart from the three shown here.

Until now these emirates have changed the formats very regularly often resorting to change in colours or layouts resulting in rather unusual number plates, many of them in good old Ras Al Khaimah. Not surprisingly, a fancy number fetched a record 18 Million Dirhams during an auction in RAK.

A rather crude outline of the Al Fahidi Fortress was introduced with the introduction of red on white colouring.
(Dubai series 2)

The Al Fahidi fortress outline was retained but the colour changed back to black on white as the numbering reached 300000. (Dubai series - 3)

Dubai introduced the Burj Al Arab into the number plate starting the 4th series. This was considered to be a good change aesthetically but conspiracy theories and controversies surrounding Burj Al Arab's resemblance to the Christian cross always suggested a revision was due.

The revision came in 2004 when the Burj Al Arab was removed without any explanation. The series numbering changed to alphabets. Looking at the current colourless format, a change is very much on the cards. I hope they dont have plans to put a needle in the number plate.

References and images:


Blogger samuraisam said...

Your last few posts have been excellent!

Keep up the good work.

8:36 pm  
Blogger Prometheus said...

Now there, Woke. Yer giving a serious run for the money to them historians. Where didja dig up these gargeer and license plates?

Yer in grave danger of being appointed 'Official Historian of the UAE'.. by Royal Decree of course. ;-)

11:02 pm  
Blogger Woke said...

Thanks Sam.

Not fair to the historians who all do the hard work and we just refer to some internet websites and books to make a summary of a paragraph or two, right Prom?

8:33 am  
Blogger The Image Village said...

Great post. It's hard to find info on UAE plates online. Even if a car is a Bentley, it is meaningless without a low number plate. In the Emirates Towers parking lot, the royal plates are completely different in color and shape that anything on the street.

10:15 am  
Anonymous halfords sat nav said...

There are a lot of countries that have number plate issues and change the formats, it is great to see the evolution of the UAE plate system.

3:02 pm  
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