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Dubai to turn QE2 into tourist attraction

June 19, 2007|From Reuters

DUBAI — The Cunard ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 has been sold for $100 million and is to become a floating hotel and museum to draw tourists to one of Dubai's man-made islands.

State-owned private equity firm Istithmar is buying the QE2, the longest-serving ship in the Cunard line, which belongs to Carnival Corp.

The liner will be anchored off the Palm Jumeirah, the smallest of three islands shaped as palm fronds that government-owned developer Nakheel is building off Dubai's coast.

The QE2 will arrive in Dubai in 2009 as part of a drive to turn the island into a tourist destination, Nakheel spokesman Charlie Taylor said. About 6.5 million people visited Dubai last year, more than any Arab destination except Egypt.

The ship will be refurbished to recreate the QE2's original interior decor and fittings, Istithmar said in a statement.

The ship came into service in 1969 and has crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times, carrying more than 2.5 million passengers, the statement said.

Cunard said it saw the sale as a way of preserving the history of the QE2.

"She has had a long life. We received a very strong offer which allowed us to preserve the ship for further generations," said Carol Marlow, Cunard's president and managing director.

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