DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem on Monday announced Istithmar World PJSC will transform its vessel Queen Elizabeth II into a 300-room luxury hotel that will be operational in 18 months.
While speaking to reporters, the top Dubai shipping giant official reckoned many banks will jump to finance it, However, he said that DP World, owner and operator of Port Rashid in the emirate, nor its sister company Istithmar will finance the project. “This will not affect the financial commitments of Istihmar. There are plenty of resources available.”
The more than 40-year-old vessel was bought by government-owned Istithmar, part of the Dubai World group, in June 2007 from Cunard Line in the UK for $100 million. The company wants to turn it into a luxury hotel.
Bin Sulayem disclosed that Istithmar is holding talks with three hotel operators, including Dubai-based Jumeirah Group, to manage the property. He added that the vessel utmost care would be taken to preserve most of its interior decoration during the renovation. He declined to give any conversion cost estimate.
According to data on Bloomberg, Isithmar has $286 million in outstanding debt.
The DP World Chairman also announced the establishment of the Dubai Maritime Museum, for which the old cruise terminal at the port would be converted to house 25,000 pieces of artefacts and maritime artworks owned by DP World. Both the luxury hotel and the museum will be inaugurated simultaneously.
“We want to make Port Rashid a sea port village,” Bin Sulayem told newsmen on Monday. DP World announced its plans in October to expand Port Rashid’s cruise terminal to cater for five cruise ships at one time by end 2012, compared with two vessels at present.