Friday, March 12, 2010

Numerology? Or just because it's cool?

In Qatar and other parts of the GCC there is a secondary market for phone numbers or license plates that have certain number combinations. In Arabic newspapers there are apparently many classified ads for people buying and selling numbers. If you don't believe me Google "phone number auction", some phone numbers can get $100,000 or more. In Qatar getting a price of $5,000 for a desirable number is not unusual.

I'm not sure how one determines the market value of phone numbers and license plates but from my limited understanding what you would like is:

a) numbers with patterns (ex. 5545545 would be worth something)

b) numbers that repeat the same digit (so 5553749 would be worth less than 5553349)

c) numbers that are easy to remember (ex 4001234)

d) or low number license plates can be desirable. Not all license plates have six digits, earlier ones had three, four, or five digits. So license plate number of 1455 would be worth more than 267214.

e) and, if you're lucky, you might have a number that matches someone's license plate. They may call you up and ask if you're willing to sell it. For example a Qatari friend of mine has matching phone number and license plate, so his phone number might be 6472238 and his license plate 472238 [No this is not his real phone number and license plate, just an example, I'm not that crazy that I would give out his phone number on the Internet just to prove a point]

So I was curious about this, did this have something to do with numerology? Were there lucky numbers and unlucky numbers? Did Qataris avoid certain numbers for whatever reason?

Don't think this is a bizarre thing, the Chinese believe 8 is lucky and 4 is unlucky, many in the West believe 13 is an unlucky number, and 7 has always been viewed positively. To this day there are still buildings in the West that do not have a 13th floor. Plenty of cultures around the world have their lucky/unlucky numbers.

I've asked around and so far it does not appear that Qataris have an affinity towards certain numbers or consider others unlucky. While number associations in the West, such as 7 or 13, tend to have some kind of Christian origin (7 Heavens, 13 at the Last Supper [or was it because that's how many witches medieval Christians believed met at Devil-worshipping ceremonies?]) No one mentioned any particular Islamic association with certain numbers, and a quick review of the Bukhari Hadiths did not turn up anything either. I'll ask around a bit more. Until then it looks like there is a vibrant secondary market for phone numbers and license plates because Arabs just find certain combinations of numbers cool to have.


A 2 Z said...

Real interesting post Glenn as are others. I was clueless that Qataris and other Arabs around that part of the world were into buying certain numbers for their plates. I would love to have my phone number match my plate. I wonder if we can do this Montreal. In your last post you said you were an Islamist accountant. What does this mean? Hope you are all settled in your new place.

Glen McKay said...

Hi A2Z, go to my blog post of April 3, 2007 it briefly describes what Islamic accounting is.

A 2 Z said...

Thanks Glenn,

Very interesting. I guess they make money by overcharging i.e. rents....

I just reread my previous post. Sorry for my mistakes ant all. I've got a hum dinger of a cold right now.

spokane said...

The culture of this country assdemelha with the rest of the region, but is very different from other parts of the world. To the outsider, there is a big culture shock.