Jake Wimberley's License Plates

Plates of Iraq

My dad met a Desert Storm veteran following the war, and discovered that the guy had taken a license plate as a souvenir from his tour of duty. He made the guy an offer on the plate and he accepted. Thanks to my dad's thoughtfulness, my first foreign plate was a biggie. Still today, when I explain to people that I collect license plates, they are surprised to find I have one from Iraq.

Issued in 1988, and used until about 2000, this design was standard for pretty much all license plates in the country. The characters across the top of the plate are indeed numerals comprising the serial (see below). In the lower right box is the Arabic script for Iraq, and in the lower left the name of the governorate, equivalent to a province, is given. Comparing the script on the plate to the names of the governorates in Arabic, it appears an abbreviation is used on the plate, but it looks most like Kirkuk (كركوك). It is interesting to me that this plate follows American size standards, which is unusual in the Middle East.

In the West, what we refer to as "Arabic numerals" are not actually used in countries using the Arabic alphabet, where instead "Eastern Arabic numerals" are used. The number system is essentially identical, but different glyphs are used for the numbers (but 1 and 9 are almost the same, and 2 and 3 look similar if the Eastern versions are rotated counterclockwise). The serial of this plate is 104415. A chart comparing the two digit systems is given below.

Some Arabic-speaking countries show the serial number on their plates twice, once in Eastern and once in Western Arabic numerals. This practice varies with the country, and seemingly the political climate as well.

Western vs. Eastern Arabic numerals.

last updated 2011.10.26 :: return home