UAE firms are in talks with Australian businessman Clive Palmer for partnership deals in his Titanic II project which is set to start construction by the end of the year on a replica of the iconic ocean liner which sank during its maiden voyage across the Atlantic in 1912.
A spokesperson for Blue Star Line, the company behind the project also confirmed talks were also underway to bring the ship to Dubai when it completes construction in 2016.
“We have had a number of companies - large companies actually from the Emirates - we are in active discussions with that are looking at opportunities to utilise the Titanic II name and encourage the ship to come to the UAE to show it off to people there,” James McDonald, global marketing director of Blue Star Line, told Arabian Business in an interview from its head quarters in Brisbane.
Australian business mogul Clive Palmer announced plans to build a replica of the infamous ship in April 2012. Ten days later, the eccentric millionaire, whose projects also include plans to build a Jurassic Park-style theme park full of animatronic dinosaurs, signed a deal with the Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling and McDonald said construction plans are moving forward.
“We are still working through our project development team, which are getting ready to start construction... We have a meeting in August and we plan to have the ship under construction by the end of the year,” he said.
“I am still optimistic the ship will be completed and ready for the water towards the end of 2016. We plan to replicate the voyage of Titanic from Southampton to Cherbourg to Ireland and across to New York.”
As well as bringing the ship to Dubai, McDonald said a number of UAE firmed had contacted Blue Star to become partners in the project and avail of the licencing opportunities available.
“We are not looking for investment as it is a project we are funding ourselves but yes we have been in contact with a number of companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising opportunities that arises with the project and the massive exposure it has generated.
“It is people looking to use the opportunity of the trademark and licencing potential of the project... We own the Titanic II name and trademark and people are lining up to be part of it.”
Blue Star has held events to publicise the project in the US, Canada, Asia and the UK and more events are planned throughout the year. “We have one coming up in Australia on the 11, 12 and 13 of August and then we have a plan of events into next year,” McDonald said.
A total of 1,502 people were killed when the ocean liner was struck by a iceburg and sank on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic on April 15 1912. While some relatives of passengers who died on the ship have condemned the move to build a replica as insensitive, McDonald said the project had received a very favourable response.
“The overwhelming response has been really good and that is shown across the world. The continued media attention is exciting. There are some people who believe there are issues, [but] we have an advisory board which has relatives of passengers and we are keen to make sure we are paying respects to them and will hopefully do that by recreating this majestic ship.
“We are paying our respects. Each year we pay our respects to those who died in world wars so why can’t we do that by building a symbol of hope. The day the ships sails into New York harbour it will be a big symbol of hope for people around the world.
“Around 40,000 people have enquired about tickets and half a dozen have offered more than a million dollars to make sure they get on the maiden voyage and this is before we have even started construction,” he added.
Interest in the ship peaked in 1997 following the success of the Titanic Hollywood movie, which was directed by James Cameron and starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The film went on to earn $1.84 billion and was the most successful movie ever until 2009.
The Titanic was infamously deemed unsinkable by its owners when it was launched in 1912, but Palmer has put his reputation on the line by declaring his Titanic II replica “will be the safest cruise ship in the world”. McDonald confirmed Titanic II will have some obvious improvements to make it ship worthy to set sale in 2016.
“We are four metres wider due to extra stability and changed to the hull and welded not riveting. We have modern evacuations procedures, satellite controls, navigations and radar and all those modern things you’d expect on a 21 century ship.”
Palmer announced this month UK firm Lloyd’s Register had been appointed to review the design and safety features for the Titanic II project.