Monday, July 06, 2009

Full frontal anonymity

For the first time I can remember, I managed to get through an entire year of motoring in the UAE without so much as a parking ticket. Presenting the Goatmobile for inspection this morning, I feared the worst as usual. The thorough and detailed inspection process took the customary fifteen seconds and cost Dh100. I ensured that the car was spotlessly clean before presenting it. Vehicles have failed inspection in the past for ‘being too dirty’, and with its jacked-up suspension, steel bumpers, wheel spacers, spotlights, stickers on the back and 30% window tint, the Goatmobile is already pushing the envelope of acceptability. It passed without comment. Huzzah!

Sharjah has decided that this year’s money-making scam is to change everybody’s number plates. So in addition to the inspection fee and Dh125 for a new gold-coloured registration card, I was obliged to have two perfectly good registration plates from the Goatmobile untimely ripp’d. The new plates (Dh85 including fitting) dispense with traditional Arabic numerals and instead of being ‘bilingual’, are now solely in Latin characters. The new plates were manufactured while I waited. There was a problem fitting the front one. The feeble drill available to the plate fitters won't touch the steel bumper so the Goatmobile is anonymous until I get it home.

As an aside, I do know that the standard set of Western numerals are actually Arabic, and Arabic numerals are Arabic-Indic…

The reason for the change is presumably a money-making scheme. Aside from Dh80 profit on each set, the new plates are easier to read and less subject to errors when dispensing camera-centric justice.

I therefore wonder why a few years ago the nearby State of Qatar changed from number plates having Western and Arabic numerals the same size to a predominantly Arabic character set and Western numerals much smaller in a forgotten corner of the plate? Over in the Magic Kingdom, combinations of Arabic letters that transliterate into something ‘offensive’ are to be replaced. ‘BAR’, ‘ASS’, ‘SEX’ and curiously ‘USA’ are all deemed unislamic.

Meanwhile, with numerals only, there remains the opportunity to contrive vanity plates reading ٨١١٧٤ ١٥٧٤٢ among others. The dark winter evenings must simply fly by…



hemlock said...

what's the second word? 'lover' what?

Grumpy Goat said...

٨١١٧٤ = ALIVE. See what I mean about the winter evenings flying by?

hemlock said...

argh! i'm so stupid... i got the live part, i kept on confusing the ٨ for N.
*thumps head in wall*

i love vanity plates :)
i remember seeing pictures of the 2003 gumball - where a bentley had the plate '8lOW M3' - heh.

Mme Cyn said...

Or the sports car you'd see around Boston in the 80s -- PEN 15 (yes, it belonged to a couple of Friends Of Dorothy).

tee hee

Oman Holidays said...

When Oman introduced ‘western ‘ numbers only on its plates (they were the first) the Saudi border posts banned the vehicles as the numbers were not Arabic


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