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Dubai’s QE2 is just an anachronism

Dubai’s QE2 is just an anachronism

Extravagance, decadence, glamour. All this defined both Dubai, and the 40-year old cruise liner its state investment arm bought in 2007. But not any more.

February 7, 2010 4:06 by

The proposed sale of the QE2 cruise liner, as reported today by the Sunday Times, is hardly surprising news.

According to the newspaper, owner Dubai World plans to sell a raft of assets, including the luxury liner owned by its private equity arm Istithmar. Other assets which could be up for sale include Canadian circus group Cirque du Soleil, said the newspaper.

But rumors of the sale have been ongoing for almost a year. In March 2009, Dubai was forced to deny that the QE2 – which it bought for $100m from Cunard in June 2007 – was on the market; such rumors resurfaced last November. Earlier this year, it emerged that a plan to sail the QE2 to South Africa, in time for the World Cup, had been shelved.

Istithmar has already been forced to sell assets. Last year it was forced to accept just $2m for its W Hotel in New York, sustaining a massive $283m loss. The group has also recently put Inchcape Shipping Services, the UK port and shipping agent, up for sale with a price tag of $700m, and last week sold its stake in Indian budget airline Spice Jet.

Selling the QE2 would represent Dubai’s highest-profile divestment to date, but it also suggests something more: The decadence and extravagance so embodied by both the cruise liner, and Dubai itself, is well and truly a thing of the past.

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew on February 12, 2010 9:36 am

    When they announced they were buying the QE2 – let alone get around to stating that they were planning to cut it up – it was clear Dubai had jumped the shark.


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