Dubai purchases RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 for $100 million

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 during a port visit in Trondheim, Norway on June 20, 2006.
Image: Kallemax.

Dubai has announced the purchase of the British ocean liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 from Cunard Line for US$100 million, for conversion into a luxury floating hotel, starting in 2009. It is part of Dubai's ongoing plans to develop its tourism industry, and it intends one day to rival such destinations as Las Vegas.

In a statement, Dubai World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said that "Dubai is a maritime nation and we understand the rich heritage of QE2. She is coming to a home where she will be cherished."

Bruce Vancil, Regional Vice President of the West Coast Steamship Historical Society of America, expressed surprise and disappointment at the move. “We were kind of hoping she could find more nostalgic waters to call home,” he said. However, [] is reporting that the ship would likely have been scrapped had the deal not gone ahead. Vancil does say that he continues to hope that the vessel's new owners will respect the historic nature of the ship.

The ship's new home will be the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial island created by the Dubai government where she will be permanently berthed, according to Istithmar, the investment section of Dubai World, a state-owned development company. Istithmar also announced plans for a refurbishment to recreate the QE2's original interior from her first year of service in 1969, and an on-board museum dedicated to the ship's history.

Dubai World will take delivery of the ship from Cunard in November 2008. She is 963 feet (293 metres) long and weighs 70,000 tonnes. She has a combined passenger and crew capacity of 2,794. She is famous as Cunard's longest-serving flagship and for being launched by Queen Elizabeth II.