Revealed: Dubai's new plan to become global cruise tourism hub

Dubai ruler approves new Dubai Cruise Terminal project which eventually will have capacity to accommodate six ships at the same time
By Sam Bridge
Mon 14 May 2018 07:12 PM

Dubai is working with Carnival Corporation, the US-based cruise company and the world's largest travel leisure company, to develop the next phase of the emirate's plan to become a global cruise tourism hub.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has approved plans to make the Dubai Cruise Terminal the main hub in the emirate, with a launch date of October 2020 slated.

Dubai Harbour will be home to two cruise terminal buildings, spanning a total of 30,000 square metres, joined by a single quay of about 1km, capable of accommodating up to three cruise ships concurrently, as well as up to 13,200 passengers at a time. Two further terminal buildings are planned that will increase capacity to six cruise ships at the same time.


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The plan follows the signing of a partnership agreement between Dubai-based Meraas and Carnival Corporation that aims to transform Dubai into a major regional maritime tourism hub.

Under the agreement, signed by Abdulla Al Habbai, group chairman of Meraas, and Arnold W Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, the companies will collaborate across port development, terminal management and new cruise development opportunities at Dubai Harbour and the broader region.

Dubai is set to become central to Carnival Corporation’s operations in the region, state news agency WAM reported on Monday, adding that the agreement mandates Carnival Corporation to assist Meraas in ensuring the cruise terminal meets the highest international standards of the cruise industry, while relevant authorities will be responsible for security, immigration and customs.

The plan is part of Dubai Tourism Vision 2020, which aims to attract 20 million visitors a year to the emirate.

Sheikh Mohammed said: "We welcome visitors from across the world and provide them with an exceptional tourism experience. We want them to leave with lasting memories that they can share in their countries and communities. The continuous development of infrastructure has enabled our country to be a destination of choice in the region."

As part of the agreement, all cruise ships visiting Port Rashid will be redirected gradually to the new Dubai Cruise Terminal.

Al Habbai said: "The development of the Dubai Cruise Terminal reflects Meraas' commitment to implementing the vision and strategic plans of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to enhance Dubai’s global standing as a world-class business and leisure tourism destination.

"Dubai Harbour is a new and unique addition to the city’s infrastructure and our alignment with DP World to make Dubai Cruise Terminal the main cruise terminal in the emirate will drive the transformation of Dubai into a fully integrated maritime tourism hub."

He added: "In line with the agreement with Carnival Corporation, the cruise hub at Dubai Harbour will reinforce Dubai's status as an ideal holiday destination, a starting point for cruises to exclusive destinations and a gateway to exploring the world. Our partnership will enhance the city’s tourism offering with new options for families, such as sharia-compliant tours."

According to the Cruise Lines Industry Association, more than 40 million people worldwide will travel on cruise ships annually by 2030, up 40 percent from 26 million passengers in 2017.

At a local level, the maritime tourism sector is expected to contribute more than AED1.5 billion to Dubai’s economy by 2030.

The Dubai Cruise Terminal at Dubai Harbour will become Carnival Corporation’s primary hub for its homeporting and transit operations in the region.

Donald said: "We have a long history in Dubai with our world-leading cruise brands. We are excited to be part of this important venture that will drive new tourism opportunities for Dubai and the region through cruising."

He said Carnival Corporation will launch new cruises from Dubai Cruise Terminal and aims to attract new source markets from India and China.

Launched in January 2017, Dubai Harbour will be located on King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street in the Mina Seyahi area and is set to span 20 million square feet.

The development will feature a shopping mall, luxury residential units, restaurants, cafés, hotels and a yacht club, as well as Dubai Lighthouse, a 135-metre high architectural masterpiece with a viewing platform offering stunning panoramic views of Dubai.

In addition, Dubai Harbour will boast the largest yacht marina in the Middle East and North Africa with 1,100 berths capable of accommodating some of the world's largest yachts up to 150 metres.

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Last Updated: Tue 15 May 2018 08:45 AM GST

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