Meet the worka­holic fam­ily man be­hind the Dhs33 mil­lion num­ber plate

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

When he isn’t bid­ding mil­lions of dirhams at num­ber plate auc­tions, multi-mil­lion­aire real es­tate baron Balvin­der Sahni can be found in his gleam­ing Dubai Ma­rina of­fice, with bow-tied but­lers whizzing around him, or on a con­struc­tion site in the mid­dle of the night.

The 41 year-old In­dian busi­ness­man made head­lines on Satur­day when he saw off bid­ders at an auc­tion to clinch the most ex­pen­sive num­ber plate sold in Dubai, D 5.

Sahni drew gasps and cheers as he raised his bids by a mil­lion dirhams at a time, in­stead of the cus­tom­ary Dhs100-200,000 pledged by his op­po­nents.

Asked where his de­sire to win sprung from, he con­fessed: “My beau­ti­ful wife called me and she told me, don’t come back home with­out get­ting the num­ber.”

Re­fer­ring to a Dhs29 mil­lion num­ber plate he took away from a live auc­tion last year, he added: “When she sees the power of the num­ber plates and the way peo­ple look when we’re go­ing for din­ner, she only wants to go in the num­ber 9.”

“And he’d give me a headache if he didn’t buy it, by com­plain­ing all night,” his wife Mag­dalena chimed in.

Sahni put the plate on his white Rolls-Royce Phan­tom, one of a col­lec­tion of five Rolls.

He said: “We have a Dhs33 mil­lion plate. Last year we got a Dhs24-25 [mil­lion plate] and we have eight two-digit num­ber plates. Cars and num­ber plates, al­to­gether I’ve got Dhs100 mil­lion.”

Sahni is an In­dian na­tional but was raised in Kuwait and speaks flu­ent Ara­bic.

He has lived in Dubai for the past 10 years but has done busi­ness here for two decades.

His group, RSG In­ter­na­tional, has multi­bil­lion dol­lar prop­erty in­vest­ments, and foot­prints in the US, Kuwait and In­dia.

RSG’s lat­est pro­ject, the Dhs450 mil­lion Qasr Sabah res­i­den­tial com­plex was com­pleted in Septem­ber 2015. And the next pro­ject is a new five-star ho­tel on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Sahni’s el­dest son, Sabah, said his fa­ther’s pas­sion is for work.

He said: “He doesn’t sleep. You’ll find him on the con­struc­tion site in the mid­dle of the night.

“He only sleeps from about 3am to 7am.

“We don’t get any sleep ei­ther, he’ll call us any time to get to work.”

With busi­ness boom­ing, Sahni said his next big buy will be a pri­vate jet.

He is aware of crit­i­cism over some of his lav­ish ac­qui­si­tions, but pointed out that the money raised from the RTA auc­tion is go­ing into in­fra­struc­ture projects.

He said: “You have to re­mem­ber one thing, we are liv­ing in this city and this city has given us a lot. I’m not in Eng­land or my coun­try [In­dia] where I have to pay 50 per cent taxes. “If it goes to in­fra­struc­ture, it’s for us.” Sahni said he also in­tends to use his for­tune to open a school for deaf and dumb pupils in Am­rit­sar, Pun­jab in the next two months.

He added: “Ev­ery for­eigner in this part of the world who is wealthy, he should give some­thing back to the so­ci­ety.”

FAM­ILY TIME: Sahni with his wife Mag­dalena and chil­dren

DOU­BLE DOWN: These two Rolls-Royce sa­loons are among a car col­lec­tion worth about Dhs100 mil­lion

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