The QE2 is back in the news. DP World, the Dubai state investment company that owns the former Cunarder, outlined scaled-back plans to keep the ship at Port Rashid where the famous liner has been laid up for three years.
Unveiling a more modest plan than the radical rebuilding first proposed before the 2008 debt crisis, DP announced the QE2 would still become a luxury hotel, but with 300 of the originally projected 1,000 staterooms opened for use. QE2 will not move to Palm Jumeirah, the palm-tree-shaped island off Dubai, as originally proposed.
“Unfortunately we had many ambitious plans but they didn’t work,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Istithmar – the outfit that bought the QE2 for $100m (£64m) in 2007 — and chairman of port operator DP World. “What we are doing now we should have done when we got it,” he said.
The public areas, such as the restaurants and entertainment halls, will be largely left as they are, which will be a relief to most ship preservationists who would prefer to see the original fittings retained.
Three hotel operators, including Dubai Holding-owned Jumeirah Group, are in talks to run the new hotel and there was mention of a maritime museum being built at Port Rashid as part of a tourist hub to surround the ship. The work is expected to take 18 months.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.