UAE. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has approved the new Dubai Cruise Terminal as the main hub for the emirate’s booming cruise tourism sector.
HH Sheikh Mohammed’s remarks came as he attended the signing ceremony of a strategic partnership agreement between local company Meraas and cruise line giant Carnival Corporation. The alliance is intended to transform Dubai into a major regional maritime tourism hub.
Dubai will become central to Carnival Corporation’s operations in the region. The agreement mandates Carnival to assist Meraas in ensuring that the cruise terminal meets the highest international standards of the cruise industry. No details are yet available on whether the terminal will include (as seems likely) a duty free operation, according to a Meraas public relations source.
Underlining the importance of the project, the signing was attended by Crown Prince of Dubai HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Under the agreement, signed by His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, Group Chairman of Meraas, and Arnold W. Donald, Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Corporation – the world’s largest leisure travel company – the two organisations will collaborate across several strategic areas. These include port development, terminal management and new cruise development opportunities at Dubai Harbour and the broader region.
HH Sheikh Mohammed said that such mega projects being implemented in the UAE are reinforcing the country’s profile globally as a model for sustainable growth. That momentum is being driven by diversification, innovation and productive partnerships with the private sector, he said.
His Highness noted that the tourism sector is key to the UAE economy, due to the value it adds through key projects and its ability to attract millions of visitors every year. “We welcome visitors from across the world and provide them with exceptional tourism experiences,” he said.
“We want them to leave with lasting memories that they can share in their countries and communities. The continuous development of infrastructure has enabled our country to be a destination of choice in the region.”
Dubai to become major maritime tourism hub
The agreement highlights Meraas’ support for Dubai Tourism Vision 2020, which aims to attract 20 million visitors a year to the emirate. The initiative also strengthens the company’s contribution to Dubai Plan 2021, the strategic roadmap to establish Dubai among the world’s best cities.
Dubai Cruise Terminal will become the main cruise terminal in Dubai. All cruise ships visiting Port Rashid will be redirected gradually from the new facility’s opening date.
Commenting on the agreement, His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai said: “The development of the Dubai Cruise Terminal reflects Meraas’ commitment to implementing the vision and strategic plans of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to enhance Dubai’s global standing as a world-class business and leisure tourism destination.
“Dubai Harbour is a new and unique addition to the city’s infrastructure. Our alignment with DP World to make Dubai Cruise Terminal the main cruise terminal in the emirate will drive the transformation of Dubai into a fully integrated maritime tourism hub.
“In line with the agreement with Carnival Corporation, the cruise hub at Dubai Harbour will reinforce Dubai’s status as an ideal holiday destination, a starting point for cruises to exclusive destinations and a gateway to exploring the world. Our partnership will enhance the city’s tourism offering with new options, such as sharia-compliant tours, for families.”
According to the Cruise Lines Industry Association, over 40 million people worldwide will travel on cruise ships annually by 2030, a +40% increase over 2017. At a local level, the maritime tourism sector is expected to contribute more than AED1.5 billion (US$408 million) to Dubai’s economy by 2030.
Carnival Corporation is the world’s largest leisure travel company and is dually listed on both the New York Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange. It operates international brands such as Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, P&O Cruises UK, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn and Cunard. The company has a fleet of over 100 cruise ships visiting more than 700 ports around the world and serving over 12 million passengers annually. The largest business of its kind in the GCC region, Carnival Corporation commands about 45% of Dubai’s maritime tourism market.
The Dubai Cruise Terminal will become Carnival Corporation’s primary hub for its homeporting and transit operations in the region. The partnership will also result in both parties working together to identify and grow the cruise tourism business in the Arabian Gulf region.
Carnival Corporation Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald said: “We have a long history in Dubai with our world-leading cruise brands. We are excited to be part of this important venture that will drive new tourism opportunities for Dubai and the region through cruising.”
New routes and exclusive destinations
To drive the cruise business and to attract tourists from new markets, discussions have taken place with Dubai-based airline Emirates to develop a growth strategy. This will include tailored tour packages.
Carnival Corporation will launch new cruises from Dubai Cruise Terminal and aims to attract new source markets from India and China. The cruise terminal is designed as a strategic maritime centre, providing easy access to and from the city, while offering passengers views of iconic landmarks, such as Ain Dubai and the upcoming Dubai Lighthouse, as well as Dubai’s urban skyline.
Dubai Harbour will house two cruise terminal buildings, spanning some 30,000sq m, joined by a single quay of about 1 kilometre, capable of accommodating up to three cruise ships concurrently. In anticipation of an upsurge in cruises, Meraas plans to add two more terminal buildings that will increase capacity to six cruise ships simultaneously.
Unique addition to Dubai’s tourism offering
Launched in January 2017 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Harbour will be located on King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street in the Mina Seyahi area. It is set to span 20 million sq ft.
The development will feature a shopping mall, luxury residential units, restaurants, cafés, hotels and a yacht club. Additionally it will include Dubai Lighthouse, a 135-metre high “architectural masterpiece” with a viewing platform offering panoramic views of Dubai.
Dubai Harbour will also boast the largest yacht marina in the Middle East and North Africa with 1,100 berths capable of accommodating some of the world’s largest yachts.
The project is being developed in phases and will create synergies with some of Dubai’s other key projects located in the area, including Bluewaters.