By Sarah Townsend
Group wanted to return historic ocean liner to birthplace on the River Clyde
Campaigners backed by the Scottish government have abandoned plans to bring the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) ocean liner back to the UK after talks with its Dubai-based owner failed to materialise.
A working group led by Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council, had proposed buying back the QE2 from a subsidiary of DP World and returning the ship to her birthplace, the Clyde and Greenock dock on Scotland’s River Clyde.
The QE2 was purchased by Istithmar, an investment arm of the Dubai World conglomerate, for a reported $100 million in November 2008.
There were plans to convert the liner into a 400-room luxury floating hotel but these stalled during the recession and the ship has languished in a berth in Port Rashid for the past six years.
McCabe’s campaign had voiced concerns about the ship’s condition after pictures were published on local news website Cruise Arabia Online suggesting she was in a state of disrepair.
However, in November, DP World chairman, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem insisted that Dubai still has a plan for the liner, but declined to elaborate, and also denied it would be scrapped, which was reported in 2012.
This week, the working group admitted the QE2 was “highly unlikely” to return to Scotland and the Clyde.
It revealed that it had contacted the ship’s owners asking if a sale was possible but had yet to receive a response and had accepted the ship would most likely remain in Dubai. The group added that its campaign had been “ambitious”.
Aubrey Fawcett, CEO of real estate developer Riverside Inverclyde and chair of the working group, said in a statement on Tuesday: “It is becoming clear that bringing the QE2 back to Scotland, which was always an ambitious proposition, is highly unlikely to happen. The working group has, through the Dubai offices of Scottish Development International, established contacts with the owners of the ship.
“We have also written directly to the owners seeking clarity on the state of the ship and whether she is for sale. No direct response to that correspondence has been forthcoming. Consequently we must conclude that it is highly unlikely that Scotland features in the future plans for the vessel.
“We are heartened to hear through media sources linked to the Dubai owners a commitment that QE2 is not destined to be scrapped and that there are plans in place.
“While it is disappointing that those plans don’t include the option of bringing her back home to the Clyde where she was built, we can take heart that we have shone a spotlight onto the vessel and her current condition.”
Other members of the working group included representatives from the Scottish Government; Scottish Development International; Scottish Enterprise; Visit Scotland and Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire local councils.
Another UK-based campaign group – QE2 London, which is headed by John Chillingworth, who was chief engineer at the ship’s former operator, Cunard – had been drawing up plans to buy back the QE2 and transform it into a 530-room hotel and conference centre in East London’s fast growing Docklands area. The group has not made any public comment on its plans for some time.
Below: Recent aerial photos of the QE2 in Dubai
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