QE2 to transformed into Dubai hotel

 

Dubai has settled on a use for the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise liner it bought for £64 million, with plans to make it into a floating hotel fitted with the original furnishings.

The 300-room hotel is expected to open within 18 months at the city's Port Rashid.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of the company that bought the ship, said they realised visitors wanted to see the QE2 as it originally looked, so they are not planning major changes as part of the conversion.

The ship's fate has been the subject of intense speculation since Dubai bought it in 2007. Original plans to completely overhaul it as a luxury hotel were scrapped when Dubai's economy tumbled into crisis.

Officials had been reluctant to address questions about the ship's future, even as it sat unused and suggestions swirled that it could be moved to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup or even sold for scrap.

Last New Year's Eve an event planning company hosted a black-tie party onboard that included live music, fireworks and a laser light show. That was the first time the ship had a large group of guests since it pulled into port.

Sultan bin Sulayem dismissed concerns about the cost of converting the QE2 into a working hotel, although he declined to say who was paying. Neither Istithmar nor the city-state's profitable port operator DP World, which he also chairs, are paying for the project, he said.

The Queen launched the QE2 in 1967. Since it went into service in 1969 it has made at least 26 round-the-world voyages.

AP

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