QE2 Drops Anchor for Final Time in Dubai

Martin Croucher
Filed on November 28, 2008

DUBAI – Exactly 40 years to the day that the QE2 went on its first sea trials on November 26, 1968, the famous ocean liner arrived in Dubai to begin a new life as a luxury hotel.

The 70,000-tonne liner was handed over from current owners Cunard to Nakheel Hotels on Wednesday in a celebration that featured a flotilla of close to a hundred ships, traditional performances and a firework display.

“We are proud to be the custodian of such a historic treasure,” said Sultan bin Ahmed Sulayem, Chairman of Nakheel parent group Dubai World. “Dubai, with its wealth of maritime heritage, is providing the warmest of welcome and a new homecoming for this icon of the seas.”

A flotilla of close to a hundred ships joined the QE2 as she passed The World islands at 3pm, and a bagpipe and drum band from Dubai Police played alongside traditional Arabic Ayallah performers as the ship docked at Port Rashid at 4.30pm.

The flotilla was joined by My Dubai, the longest yacht in the world that belongs to His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

In a nod to the QE2’s history as a troop carrier during the 1982 Falklands war, British Royal Naval Frigate HMS Lancaster, joined the flotilla along with a naval helicopter. “She is an honoured veteran of a hard fought battle,” said Commodore Tim Lowe, the UK Maritime Component Commander in the Gulf. “I am delighted that one of our ships is able to offer a final salute.”

The ship departed Southampton Port on November 11 to set sail on a 16-night cruise via Lisbon, Rome and Alexandria, tickets for which were sold “at a premium” a spokeswoman for Cunard said.

The ship departed in a ceremony, which was attended, by Manfred Ursprunger, CEO of QE2 Enterprises, Nakheel Hotels.

He said: “This is one of the most anticipated events of the year and marks a new and exciting chapter in her life.”

Southampton has been home to the QE2 for 39 years and Nakheel and Cunard are presenting the ship’s anchor to the town as a mark of respect.

The ship will be based at Dubai Dry Docks for the next two to three years while refurbishment is carried out on the ship. Queen Elizabeth II visited the docks, just under 30 years ago in 1979.

A spokesman for the British Embassy in Dubai, said that he hoped that the acquisition of the ship would further strengthen UAE-UK ties.

“We warmly welcome Nakheel’s acquisition of the world’s favourite ocean liner and look forward to this new chapter in her story.”

Elderly British couple Joan and Patrick Murphy arrived in Dubai that morning to watch the QE2. “My sister lives right next to the port in Southampton. A lot of people came out to see it leave,” said Mrs Murphy. “It’s done a great service for Britain. It’s good that it will be used as a holiday home for some people.”

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