Queen Elizabeth 2, the world's most famous cruise ship, will soon be turned into a floating hotel in Dubai.
The Dubai World Company has bought the 70,000-tonne ship for $100 million through its investment subsidiary, Istithmar PJSC, from Cunard Line. Dubai World Company is also the owner of shipping major P&O.
and will berth it at a pier at the Palm Jumeirah at the Gulf emirate from 2009.
The 70,000-tonne vessel, launched by the Queen in 1967, will be turned into a floating hotel and berthed off the Palm Jumeirah development in the Gulf state. Palm Jumeirah is one of the three palm-frond shaped isles off its coast being developed by Dubai's state-owned realty developer Nakheel.
QE2 will be delivered to Dubai World in November 2008, marking the end of its role as an ocean-going passenger vessel and will be refurbished and adapted for a new home.
From 2009, the vessel will be berthed at a specially-constructed pier to create a luxury floating hotel, retail and entertainment destination at The Palm Jumeirah, the world's largest man-made island.
The ship, which was launched by Her Majesty The Queen in September 1967, 40 years ago this year, is the longest-serving ship in Cunard's 168-year history, and was their longest-serving flagship. Since she came into service in 1969, she has undertaken 25 world cruises, has crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and has carried more than 2.5 million passengers.
QE2 has been purchased by Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, a wholly owned company of the Government of Dubai. Nakheel, developer of The Palm Jumeirah, is also a Dubai World company.
Carol Marlow, president and managing director of Cunard, said in a media release: "We are delighted that when her legendary career as an ocean liner ends there will continue to be a permanent home for her that will enable future generations to continue to experience fully both the ship and her history."
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World, said: "QE2 is without a doubt one of the wonders of the maritime world, and is easily the most famous serving liner in the world today. I am delighted we will be able to create a home for her on the newest wonder of the world, The Palm Jumeirah."
"QE2 at The Palm Jumeirah will become one of the must-see experiences of Dubai and of the Middle East. We are investing in creating a truly global tourism destination."
"Dubai is a maritime nation and we understand the rich heritage of QE2. She is coming to a home where she will be cherished."
Istithmar said its refurbishment programme will aim to recreate QE2's original interior décor and fittings. QE2 at The Palm Jumeirah will also include a museum celebrating the rich history of the ship.
The Palm Jumeirah is the world's largest man-made island and home to a residential, tourism and leisure destination created by Nakheel. The Palm Jumeirah is a landmark in engineering, providing luxury residences, retail and leisure facilities across three main areas - the trunk, the crescent, and the fronds. Over the next five to six years, The Palm Jumeirah will become one of the world's premier resorts, offering more than 30 beachfront hotels, including Atlantis, The Palm.
Cunard Line was formed in 1839 principally to carry the Royal Mail between the UK and North America, and in doing so inaugurated in 1840 the first timetabled steamship service across the Atlantic. Cunard Line is part of Carnival Corporation & plc, which is the largest cruise holiday group in the world.
(Above) Queen Elizabeth 2 passes her sister ship, the Queen Mary II (rear), as she arrives in Sydney Harbour February 20, 2007 in Sydney, Australia.
Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images