The companies will collaborate across several strategic areas including port development, terminal management and new cruise development opportunities at Dubai Harbour and the broader region.
Dubai is set to become central to Carnival Corp.'s operations in the region. The agreement mandates the cruise giant to assist Meraas in ensuring the terminal meets the industry's highest international standards, while the relevant authorities will be responsible for security, immigration and customs.
Dubai Cruise Terminal to become main hub for cruise tourism
The signing, by Carnival CEO Arnold Donald and Meraas Group chairman Abdulla Al Habbai, was witnessed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, VP and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, who also approved the Dubai Cruise Terminal as the main hub for cruise tourism in Dubai.
Operations there are scheduled to commence in October 2020. Following discussions with Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World, it was agreed on March 26 that this new development will become the main cruise terminal in Dubai and all cruise ships visiting Port Rashid will be redirected gradually from its opening date.
The agreement highlights Meraas' support for Dubai Tourism Vision 2020, which aims to attract 20m visitors a year to the emirate, and strengthens the company’s contribution to Dubai Plan 2021, the strategic roadmap to establish Dubai among the world's best cities.
'We welcome visitors from across the world and provide them with an exceptional tourism experiences. We want them to leave with lasting memories that they can share in their countries and communities,' Sheikh Mohammed said.
Continuous infrastructure development
'The continuous development of infrastructure has enabled our country to be a destination of choice in the region. Supported by the talent and creativity of our people, I am confident that we will be able to establish global leadership in several sectors. The UAE will continue to be a symbol of progress and prosperity,' he added.
For Carnival Corp.'s part, 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.'
Carnival aims to launch new cruises from Dubai Cruise Terminal and aims to attract new source markets from India and China. The terminal is designed as a strategic maritime centre, providing easy access to and from the city, while offering passengers an unparalleled view of iconic landmarks, such as Ain Dubai and the upcoming Dubai Lighthouse, as well as the Dubai’s stunning urban skyline.
Capacity for three ships at once, with plans for six eventually
Dubai Harbour will be home to two cruise terminals, spanning a total of 30,000 square metres, joined by a single quay of about 1 kilometre, capable of accommodating up to three cruise ships concurrently, including Carnival Corp.'s newest and most advanced, as well as up to 13,200 passengers at a time. In anticipation of an upsurge in cruises, Meraas has planned for the addition of two more terminal buildings that will increase capacity to six cruise ships at the same time.
In total, Dubai Harbour is set to span 20m square feet. The development will feature a shopping mall, luxury residential units, restaurants, cafés, hotels and a yacht club, as well as Dubai Lighthouse, a 135-metre high structure with a viewing platform. In addition, Dubai Harbour will offer 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, up to 150 metres.
Commenting on the signing of the agreement, Al Habbai said the project reflects Meraas' commitment to Sheikh Mohammed's development strategy.
'Dubai Harbour is a new and unique addition to the city’s infrastructure and 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,' he said.
Gateway to exploring the world
Al Habbai added that the agreement with Carnival 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 for families, such as sharia-compliant tours.'
Further, the agreement 'presents an opportunity to attract experts from all over the world to share experiences and exchange knowledge, reinforcing Dubai’s position among the best cities in the world. From an economic perspective, the move will boost the volume of inbound tourism to Dubai and develop new economic sectors, which will create employment opportunities for UAE citizens and residents in key areas, such as catering, entertainment and the maritime sector.'
The maritime tourism sector is expected to contribute more than AED1.5bn ($408m) to Dubai’s economy by 2030.