The 70,327-ton, 1,791-passenger vessel was bought from Cunard for $100m five years ago by Istithmar, an investment company owned by the government of Dubai.
Istithmar initially planned to refurbish the QE2 and showcase it as the main attraction in a maritime-themed development on Palm Jumeirah, but the plan was shelved in the wake of the financial crisis.
The new plan calls for the liner to be converted into a 300-room hotel and docked permanently at Dubai’s Port Rashid as part of a plan to transform the port into a tourist attraction.
The company believes visitors will want to see the QE2 as it originally looked, so does not expect to carry out major renovations or remove fixtures still onboard. The refurbishment work is expected to take 18 months to complete.
Bloomberg has reported that Istithmar is currently in talks with three hoteliers, including Jumeirah Group, to manage the property.
“The vessel is truly iconic and has a huge following around the world. Our vision is to enhance the facilities on board but retain the very strong sense of history that is a fundamental part of her attraction,” HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of Istithmar World, said in a statement.
“Together with the planned Maritime Museum, it reinforces Port Rashid and Dubai’s status as a leading cruise and maritime tourism destination. We are excited about the potential for Port Rashid to further develop as a tourist destination in its own right,” added Mohammed Al Muallem, senior vice president and managing director of DP World for the UAE Region.
Concerns about the cost of converting the QE2 into a working hotel has been dismissed by the ship’s owner, although they declined to say who was paying. Neither Istithmar nor the port operator DP World is paying for the project.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II launched the QE2 in 1967. Since it went into service in 1969, the QE2 has made at least 26 round-the-world voyages.