Dubai plans to refit the Queen Elizabeth 2 as a 300-room hotel, ending five years of uncertainty over the fate of the historic cruise liner.
Sultan bin Sulayem, chairman of QE2 owner Istithmar, says the vessel will open within 18 months as the centerpiece of an entertainment village, including a maritime museum, in Port Rashid, where the vessel has been berthed since it was retired from service in late 2008.
The QE2 has since become a Dubai landmark, a visible reminder of Dubai’s overseas spending spree which came unstuck amid the debt crisis of 2009 when the parent of Istithmar, conglomerate Dubai World, said it could not meet its financial obligations.
Mr bin Sulayem led Dubai World’s expansion through the boom into the bust that forced a $20bn bailout loan from the United Arab Emirates and its oil-rich capital, Abu Dhabi.
Dubai’s thriving tourism sector has since led a broader economic recovery in the emirate as the Arab uprising forces tourists to avoid countries impacted by the revolts, to Dubai’s benefit. Cruise liners have been one of the fastest-growing tourism segments in the emirate, the low-tax economy of which was founded on trade.
Mr. bin Sulayem said putting the QE2 to work would help Istithmar reduce the heavy costs of keeping the ship afloat since its acquisition from Cunard for £50 million.Page 1 of 3 | Next Page