The QE2, which has sat idle at Dubai’s Port Rashid since arriving amid much fanfare in November 2008, threw open its doors for a glitzy event on New Year’s Eve. Image Credit: Asghar Khan/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The Queen Elizabeth II (QE2) will get a new lease of life as a luxurious floating hotel under the ‘QE2 New Life’ project, said Khamis Juma Bu Amim, chairman of QE2 Shipping LLC Dubai and QE2 Holding Private Limited.

The ownership of the vessel has been transferred to a new Dubai-based entity QE2 Shipping LLC, he said.

“All parties have agreed to the change of ownership and business of the ship,” Bu Amim said on Sunday. The ship is managed by QE2 Holdings, a consortium of private investors formed last year that will handle investments and operations of the ship.

Bu Amim said: “We will deliver an iconic project for the world to talk about for many years to come.”

Teams from Drydocks World were charged with bringing the vessel back into class to enable her to sail to the Far East.

Staffed with a crew of 32 members, the QE2’s captain is Sergly Byelov from Ukraine.

Several activities have been undertaken to bring the QE2 back to class, including hull and structural checks, steel repairs and renewals, ballast tank, air conditioning, sea suction and cooling system inspections, pumping out, cleaning and steel renewal in deep tanks and so on. Four yards — Rong Sheng, Cosco, China Merchant and China Shipping — have carried out inspections of the QE2, Bu Amim said.

Off to the Far East

“We tentatively expect to bid farewell to QE2 on October 18,” Bu Amim said. The ship is then expected to reach Singapore on November 1, where she will stay for three days before proceeding to Hong Kong for another three days. Thereafter, the QE2 will set sail for a shipyard in China, selected to complete the transformation.

A sum of about $90 million (Dh330.6 million) has been invested in the transformation of QE2 into a hotel, a process that will take eight to 12 months, Bu Amim said.

The ship will be converted into a 400-room all-suite hotel, with suite sizes ranging from 60 to 150 square meters, and she will also house larger suites intended as long-stay residences.

The transformation is being handled by Drydocks World in partnership with Oceanic Group International Limited.

Commenting on speculation about the fate of the QE2, Bu Amim said it was “unfortunate” that the ship had been the target of several rumours. “We will not respond or react to any form of speculation,” Bu Amim said.

No sale of QE2

Once in full operation, the annual cost of maintaining the ship is estimated to be approximately $2.5 million, Bu Amim added. Discussing plans for the QE2’s future, he said that Dubai was not looking to sell the ship. “There is no need to sell the QE2.”

Memorabilia will be removed from the vessel and shipped to Singapore and stored in specially secured warehouses. Once renovation is complete, these will be reassembled.

International designer houses, including Benoy, Francis Leung of Hong Kong, Ong & Ong, Wilson Associates and Jeday Associates, have been invited to submit plans for the ship’s interior design.

These designs will be showcased on the QE2 website, after which members of the public can choose the best design. The ship’s clientele would be mostly corporates, Bu Amim told Gulf News.

The writer is an intern at Gulf News.