Dubai terminal aims to be the regional cruising hub

The new cruise terminal with the QE2 in the background

THE UAE emirate of Dubai has launched its new cruise terminal at Port Rashid, which it expects to become the region's top cruising hub.

The terminal was inaugurated by General Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence and Chairman of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Present for the launch were four liners - the stately QE2, Delphin, Europa and Columbus - together carrying around 4,000 passengers, local reports said.

The terminal is sited on a 335-m quay offering the capacity to berth two ships simultaneously, while the terminal itself is around 3,300 sq m in size. The interiors of the terminal are in keeping with its new name and logo - Sea Arabia - and use muted blues and sand yellow, with parquet and marble flooring.

It offers a range of facilities such as personal and baggage security screening, covered baggage handling area, tour bus and taxi parking stands, post office and money exchange, business centre with Internet access and conference room.

Dubai expects the number of cruise passenger to double to 25,000 this year over 2000, and the number of ships calling in the terminal to further double in 2002, said Chuck Heath, DTCM director of projects.