Former passengers, employees and enthusiasts of the iconic QE2 ocean liner have contacted Arabian Business to voice concern that the legendary ship has been left to “rot away”, after new photos appeared online in recent weeks of the ship still docked in Dubai's Port Rashid.
The Dubai-based owner of the liner announced in October last year it had appointed the COSCO Shipyard Group to refurbish the ship into a luxury floating hotel.
QE2 Holdings said in a statement that the cruise ship, which has hosted kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and celebrities throughout its legendary 40-year history, will depart from Dubai and arrive in COSCO Shipyard’s facility in Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province, China.
Once there, it claimed it would receive a makeover, which was due to be completed by 2015. As part of the refurbishment, the existing 990 staterooms were to converted into 400 premium suites ranging from 60 to 150 square metres.
Khamis Juma Buamim, chairman of QE2 Holdings and Dubai’s Drydocks World, said last year he will not be sorry to see the back of the ship when it leaves the emirate in October 2013 but claimed the Dubai authority had “fantastic” plans for the much-loved ocean liner and the funding was in place to rebrand as a floating hotel to be based in Asia.
However, new images have emerged online showing the ship still docked in Dubai’s Port Rashid.
Images on Google Earth (left) also clearly show the former Cunard vessel still clearly docked alongside the port. Two years ago, reports claimed the ship had been sold to Chinese scrap merchants for £20 million ($31 million), as Dubai authorities struggling to keep up with the ship's £650,000 per month maintenance costs.
Repeated plans have been announced for the future fate of the ship, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017, since it was sold to Dubai at the height of the property boom in 2008. With plans appearing to stall once again, many fans, passengers and former employees of the ship have contacted Arabian Business to express disapproval at its current state, with one recent photo showing staff members roasting a pig during a BBQ on its outside decks.
Rod Fair, a former engineer on the QE2, told Arabian Business: "I cannot for the life of me understand why this magnificent ship is sitting there rotting, AND costing somebody a fortune, when it could well be elsewhere being useful,” said Rod Fair, a former engineer on the QE2."
Marc-Antoine Bombail, author of several books on the QE2 said: "The Queen Elizabeth 2 has to be preserved for future generations because she is a vision of majesty, power, luxury and elegance with no equivalent in today's shipping world. To let QE2 rot away or get scrapped would be a supremely uncivilised outrage. What is happening to her since 2008 is just nonsense.
“I still hope Dubai will eventually find the amount of inspiration and courage (not just money) required to preserve QE2 in a sustainable and creative manner, like the Americans did with Queen Mary, the Dutch with Rotterdam and the Japanese with Hikawa Maru. Even if this means sending her to London, where a smart and exciting project is ready for her. She deserves such a positive, innovative and realistic project at long last. And so does her loyal following worldwide."
Alan Snelson, a photographer who worked on the ship added: "QE2 was for many years the most famous ship in the world. Wherever in the world I travelled on her I only had to say "QE2" to any taxi driver and I would be taken straight there. Now she is suffering the ultimate indignity of being hidden away in an industrial dockyard and seems to be being left to wither away. A great many people in Dubai don't even seem to realise she is still there! If no viable plan can be put in place by her current owners then they should be able to release her to someone who can save her before the damage is irreversible.”
A spokesperson from Drydocks World declined to comment on the status of the QE2 and its future plans when contacted repeatedly by Arabian Business.
For more updates and information on the QE2 click here.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.