DUBAI - A crowd waving British and UAE flags greeted the arrival of the QE2 at Port Rashid on Wednesday as the ship began a new life as a floating hotel. Cheers went up as the ship berthed just in front of crowds as passengers on the deck waved.
Later in the evening, crowds of dignitaries from embassies and business gathered to watch as the QE2 was lit up by fireworks.
Khaleej Times learned from the radar aboard one of the supporting boats that there were around 300 private vessels that took part in a flotilla from The World islands to Port Rashid.
Among those that took part were the Royal Naval frigate, the HMS Lancaster, and the super-yacht owned by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
At the event, officials from Nakheel revealed how the characteristic red funnel from the ship would be removed and replaced by a four-storey penthouse.
Moreover, the engines would be removed from the ship and replaced by a 5,000-seat Westend-style theatre. Other plans include making historic dining areas a venue for an exclusive and prestigious members club.
The plans evoked mixed reaction from those present. Anne Harrington, a British expatriate who toured the ship last time it berthed in
“The funnel has got to stay,” she said.
“That’s part of the characteristic outline of the ship.
“What’s the point in removing it? I hope that because of the current economic crisis, they don’t just let it sit there and rot in the dock. Even if they just let people on for tea and lunch, that would be enough.”
However Sinclair Liddell, whose father was yard manager at the QE2’s construction, welcomed the move.
“The funnel is corroded and they are going to restore it and put it into a museum. The ship is getting quite old now and I’m delighted that they are going to bring it back to its former glory.”
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