The confirmation that the QE2 is to be turned into a luxury hotel left a funny taste in my mouth. As a Brit, I’m naturally proud (and relieved) that this iconic vessel – the last oil-fired passenger steam ship to cross the Atlantic in scheduled liner service (in case you were unaware) – has been thrown the lifejacket of a dignified retirement. But I suppose I was expecting something, well, more ‘Dubai’. In the four years since Dubai World bought the vessel (and the three or so since talk of its original hotel renovation plans fell silent), my imagination has been left to run wild, dreaming up countless bizarre uses for the icon, including (my favourite) a life-sized version of strategy game Battleships off JBR beach. The idea of a 300-room hotel moored off Port Rashid (not the Palm Jumeirah, as once hoped) seems, well, modest. I mean, this is Dubai, after all.
So in the space where my mind once voyaged on an archaic ocean liner, I’ve been left to daydream of even more fanciful uses for some of the world’s most recognisable man-made icons if they were to end up in Dubai. I mean, why not drag the original Big Ben from London to sit beside the remarkably similar clock tower nearly complete on Sheikh Zayed Road? They could both sit overlooking DIFC so finance workers needn’t waste valuable nanoseconds checking their watches. Hop over the channel and we could plonk the Eiffel Tower in Downtown to show how tall the Burj Khalifa is (2.7 times taller, in fact). Then there’s the Leaning Tower of Pisa: one side would make a great abseiling course, while the other a challenging climbing wall. Hmm…
We’ve already built two copies of NYC’s Chrysler Building (check out the Business Central Twin Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road), so it would be foolish not to get the Statue of Liberty involved along the Jumeirah coastline. Admittedly, it risks being outshone by the Burj Al Arab, which stands more than three times taller. We could use the Brooklyn Bridge too – another route to traverse Dubai Creek wouldn’t hurt.
I’ve always thought an old Concorde would make a great restaurant. Surely there’s an empty patch of desert large enough to house an old jumbo jet? Out near The Sevens stadium, perhaps? Speaking of which, uprooting the Coliseum would give the rugby an interesting twist. But if we have something Roman, perhaps we should claim something from Greece too, although how the Parthenon would look amid the cranes at Jebel Ali, I’m unsure. We can pass on Egypt, though – who needs pyramids when you have Wafi?
Rob Garratt is our Music & Nightlife editor. He’s prone to daydreaming in the office.