Nakheel has promised to transform the QE2 into a floating luxury hotel in two to three years. Will they be able to do it?
February 16, 2009 11:01 by Aarti Nagraj
QE2 could be scraped because of credit crunch read a headline in The Mirror‘s Sunday edition. Typo aside (it’s scrapped, not scraped), the headline reflects what several international media bodies are currently debating.
After 40 years at sea, luxury liner QE2 (short for Queen Elizabeth II) docked in Dubai permanently in November last year. QE2’s previous owner, shipping company Cunard, sold the ship to Dubai World for approximately $100 million, and her new owners promised to transform the ship into a luxury hotel, with dozens of rooms, numerous restaurants, a performance theater and a spa.
But reports say that due to the credit crunch, the QE2 may remain idle for a long time.
Nakheel, however, has been rubbishing the rumors, and has been dishing out the same quote for the last few days, which they reiterated to Kipp: “The plans for QE2’s full restoration and refurbishment are ongoing as we continue to investigate all our options for optimizing this fantastic asset.”
But there has to be some fire for the smoke. The financial crisis has led to numerous project delays and cancellations; many from Nakheel. The ambitious kilometer tall tower (part of the multibillion dollar Nakheel Harbour & Tower), Trump International Tower and Hotel, Discovery theme park, Forbidden City and Gateway Towers are some of its postponed projects.
Thanks to project delays, Nakheel also laid off 500 employees in November last year, and it has just announced that its management teams across projects have been merged.
With many of its high profile projects on hold, doubts about the development of QE2 seem justified. After all, the grand plans Nakheel has for its luxury hospitality sector are going to cost a lot of money. When the QE2 sailed into to Dubai, Kipp asked Nakheel if the project was adequately funded.
“Let me put it to you in perspective,” Manfred Ursprunger, the CEO of QE2 Enterprises told us at the time. “We are fully committed to the vision, the development. And we are committed to delivering it in two to three years.”
Can we hold them to that promise?