PLANS to convert one of the world's most famous ocean-going ships into a luxury Dubai hotel have been given the green light.
The Queen Elizabeth 2, built by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank and launched by the Queen in 1967, was the flagship liner of the Cunard shipping company.
Designed as a sister ship for the earlier Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, it ruled the waves for 41 years but retired to warmer climes in 2008.
Now Dubai-based group Istithmar, which bought the ship in 2007 for £64million, has settled on a use for the famous cruise liner.
The Dubai government-owned group has confirmed plans to convert the ship into a floating hotel fitted with the original furnishings.
The 300-room hotel is expected to open within 18 months at the city's Port Rashid.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of the company that bought the ship, said they realised visitors wanted to see the QE2 as it originally looked, so they are not planning major changes as part of the conversion.
The ship's fate has been the subject of intense speculation since Dubai bought it in 2007, with previous attempts to transform the ship into a floating leisure complex proving fruitless.
Early plans to completely overhaul it as a luxury hotel would have seen the vessel opened by 2011 but these initial plans were shelved when Dubai's economy was rocked by the worldwide economic crisis.
Since then officials have been reluctant to address questions about the ship's future, even as it sat unused.
Rumours that the liner could be moved to South Africa for the 2010 Football World Cup or even sold for scrap proved unfounded, with a Hogmanay party last year being the only event on the QE2 since it arrived in Dubai.
Sultan bin Sulayem dismissed concerns about the cost of converting the QE2 into a working hotel, although he declined to say who was paying.
Neither Istithmar nor the city-state's profitable port operator, DP World, which he also chairs, are paying for the project, he said.