THE MAN WITH LOTS ON HIS PLATE
Meet the workaholic family man behind the Dhs33 million number plate
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