If you look out on the roads nowadays, you would surely have noted the changes. Of course we aren’t telling you about the obvious ones – like you, we too hate the construction activity around every corner that slows us down and forces us to visit the car wash everyday – but once the building is over, just maybe we will have a smooth and traffic jam free drive.
In some cases the results are obvious – like the interchange as we leave the airport at Seeb. Now we don’t have to play a game of Russian Roulette every time we want to exit the complex towards Muscat. The new interchange has made access a pleasure and helps portray a welcoming picture of Oman to visitors as well. Even the bits and pieces of the Southern expressway are coming together nicely, so that commuting to work in the City will be a bit more relaxed.
But the changes we remarked at are a bit more in the guise of an acceptance of growth. Five digit number plates are out and for those among us who are crazy about birthdays, sequences, model numbers and now even your bank account – there is a number for everyone. These new number plates are also a sign that we can expect many more cars on the road. With the old four digit regime and the combination of 1 or 2 letters, you could get up to about four million vehicles registered, provided you used most combinations.
With the five digit sequence that number grows ten-fold and it portends a lot more business for Oman’s vehicle industry.
Other fallouts are that the demand for the smaller sequences – upto three digits definitely – is going to skyrocket and where there is demand there will be supply. We are sure that some cars are going to trade hands just for the coveted smaller number plates and expect that often the perceived value of the number will be more than the car’s residual value.
What is the importance of a number? Does a luxury car with a five digit number plate say anything less about the man who bought it? And must we all fall into the trap of a consumerism that is born out of having too little value for your money and too much for a number?
We don’t expect things to change except for the more covetous and will look out for some numbers that jog our memory or remind us of the number of times a girl has told us to get lost or a zip code from the US.
Of course, we could also, in future get a third letter on the number plate, though that seems superfluous in a country the size of ours. There are many 3 letter words in various languages and sometimes the combination can be just so apt. Take CAR for instance – we wouldn’t mind having any number of digits after that!
This blog first featured as letter from the Editor of our May 2008 issue.