The QE2 has been in Dubai for 2 years now. I have been lucky to witness her arrival in 2008 and see her close up on her anniversary last year. Her anniversary on November 27 coincides with the Dubai Rugby Sevens, the biggest sports event in Dubai which is usually in the same week. For a big Sevens fan like me, this event is a fixture in my calendar, and while I was there it was my personal mission to reunite with my favourite liner.
The QE2 was moved in September from the cruise terminal to an inner berth within Dubai Customs where she is no longer visible for passengers and the webcams of the cruise ships docking behind her. She can still be seen from cruise ships arriving in Port Rashid though, and she is visible from the main port road.
Photo taken from the Customs Office area opposite. Next to me, not visible, was a cargo ship. AidaDiva further to the right.
Personally I prefer the old location at the cruise terminal as she would have been in company with the cruise ships calling at Dubai and more people could see her from the decks of the ships. Now she is tucked away in a rather desolate place where lots of construction work is going on. Barges and dhows with cargo from the Middle East are docking opposite at another quay to unload their cargo. They are servicing the Middle East: Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait. Some go as far as Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Naturally the area is restricted to customs employees and anyone who has justifiable business or reason to enter the area.
She is in a secure area considering that she is berthed in the vicinity of the royal marina where the Dubai, the luxury yacht owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is moored. It was the Dubai that led the welcome flotilla into Port Rashid 2 years ago. The Ruler of Dubai is said to have a soft spot for the QE2 ever since he travelled on her.
The timing of the visit was a bit unfortunate. We went late in the morning, around 10.30am when the sun was already very high and I had to take the photos against the sun. There wasn’t much I could do about the schedule as I was depending on my friends’ local friend who had access to the restricted section. As it was UAE National Day, a big holiday for the locals, I was very grateful that he made himself available to drive to the port. To make things worse we arrived at the QE2 when she was refueled and for security reasons we were not allowed to get near the fuel truck or drive/walk alongside the ship.
Refueling, a positive sign of activity and confirmation that they keep the engines running.
It is easily understandable how disappointed I was that I could not walk the full length of the ship to take photos or talk to the security people. Her size is overwhelming every time I see her and her majestic bow never fails to impress me. It was a very moving moment to be so close one more time and for that I am most thankful.
I can only confirm the impression I had from my first visit that the owners are taking care of her. Her surroundings are kept clean; the ship looks clean from the outside and from what I heard at least one engine keeps running. The curtains were partly drawn on the bridge to protect the interior from the blazing sum. There was smoke coming from the funnel, but in the haze and sun it was barely visible. If one looks closely at the photo, you can see a hint of smoke.
Not all Cunard references have been removed. The Cunard Lion Crest is still there.
I took a short video to give you an idea of the neighbourhood of QE2’s berth; however, it had to be a quick one as I was standing in the Dubai Customs section where photography was strictly forbidden. Security guards tend to get a bit edgy when they see folks lingering around with camera gear.
In speaking to some locals I realise they don’t really know anything about her history and what maritime legacy they have in their hands. It’s a scary thought though. They just like the idea of having a famous ocean liner in Dubai. The expatriates I spoke to do not understand why she is left idle in the port where she is running up a hefty bill. There is a general agreement that Nakheel could generate a good income with little investment (in Dubai terms) by offering first class dining, especially Friday dinner buffets which are very popular with the locals as well as the expat community; as well as attracting business by opening the public rooms for wedding functions etc. I could not pick up any news, not even rumours as to what the plans might be for her in the near future.
I posted 22 photos in the Cunard Queens Gallery, click here, and for those interested in the previous posts, see below:
Dubai Blog Posts:
Photos in the Cunard Queens Gallery