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Thu 17 Sep 2009 02:06 PM

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Nakheel in talks over QE2's Cape Town future

Owner says it remains confident about South Africa move despite reported problems.

QE2 owner Nakheel is holding talks with the South African port authorities after doubts emerged it was safe for the cruise liner to dock at Cape Town, the Dubai developer said on Thursday.

Two months ago Nakheel, which bought the luxury cruise ship for $100m in 2007, said the QE2 might move to Cape Town before work started to turn it into a floating hotel in Dubai.

But it was reported earlier in the month that the Cape Town port authorities had told Nakheel that because of space constraints it would be unsafe for the cruise ship to dock at the city’s terminals.

However, a spokesman for the state-controlled real estate developer said it was in discussions with South African port operator Transnet and remained "confident" the ship could be berthed in Cape Town.

“We are currently in detailed discussions with the authorities in South Africa,” a Nakheel spokesman said.

“Final preparations to ensure her full compliance with international safety standards and corresponding certification are underway and we are confident that QE2 can be berthed safely in Cape Town harbour,” the company added.

The global financial crisis put on hold Nakheel’s plans to turn the QE2 into a luxury floating hotel - for which the ship is scheduled to undergo extensive refurbishment.

Cape Town then emerged as a possible destination for the iconic cruise liner after concerns were raised by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) about a shortage of accommodation for fans during the World Cup in South Africa next year.

But Nakheel played down that the move could be a threat to local businesses in South Africa.

“As a stationery hotel, QE2 will bring significant tourism, employment and business benefits to South Africa and, as she will be run as a local enterprise by a local operator, she will also bring additional tax revenue to the country. Profit generated from the ship will remain in South Africa and will benefit the South African economy,” it added.

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