Cruise Industry: Impact of Dubai Harbour project on cruise tourism

The Dubai Harbour project was launched this week by the ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammad. The major new waterfront destination will be 20-million square feet in size, or roughly the size of the Principality of Monaco, and will seek to put Dubai on the map as the Monaco of the Middle East.

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Its impact on the Middle East cruise market will be significant. Nestled between Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and Palm Island, the new cruise terminal at Dubai Harbour will give cruise passengers direct access to the city’s major tourist attractions, as the development will be integrated with Skydive Dubai, the Dubai International Marine Club and will sit on the doorstep of JBR and the Palm Jumeirah.

Dubai Lighthouse, part of the new Dubai Harbour development.

The new development will also include a shopping mall covering 3.5 million sq. feet, an events arena, luxurious residential buildings, hotels, offices, retail stores, public services, restaurants and cafes and ‘Dubai Lighthouse’, which appears to be Dubai’s modern nod to the fabled Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Indeed the ancient wonder of the world was around 130m high, and Dubai Lighthouse will have a reported height of 135m. Featuring a luxury hotel, the ‘Dubai Lighthouse’ will have an observation deck that offers 360 degree views. ‘Dubai Lighthouse’ will have a solid, smooth and unfettered façade that can be used as a gigantic screen for high resolution projections and light shows.

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While the current Dubai Cruise Terminal at Mina Rashid is more convenient for shore excursions to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and the wider Business Bay, Dubai Harbour will be a more picturesque cruise port and will therefore be used by the larger, more premium cruise ships visiting Dubai. Dubai Tourism will likely use the development to attract global cruise lines such as Princess, Holland America, and P&O to base ships in the city during the Middle East’s winter cruise season.

Dubai Harbour project will include a new Dubai Cruise Terminal.

The huge new cruise terminal, with a daily passenger capacity of up to 6,000 passengers will be able to accommodate two to three cruise ships at a time, a DP World official told Cruise Arabia & Africa, with Dubai’s Mina Rashid remaining the primary cruise port of the city for turnaround Dubai to Dubai cruises.

Mina Rashid is set to undergo its own redevelopment, with a marina and retail areas to be developed, which will complement its role as the Middle East’s main cruise hub.

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Dubai Harbour will instead be reserved for the largest cruise ships sailing from the city, such as Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, both of which called in Dubai in 2015 and 2016, and Princess Cruises’ new Majestic Princess, which is due to call in Dubai in 2017.

‘Dubai Harbour’ will therefore play a vital role in raising Dubai’s global profile as a cruise ship hub. The fully equipped urban port and a fully serviced and state-of-the art passenger terminal, with duty free shopping and a major mall just a few steps away, will make the project one of the most convenient for cruise guests to use.

The project will help Dubai tap the vast growth opportunities in the maritime tourism industry. In 2017, Dubai is expected to receive 650,000 maritime travellers, while 25.3 million people are expected to go on a cruise, according to a report published recently by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association.

‘Dubai Harbour’ is expected to stimulate 100 per cent growth in the number of cruise tourists visiting Dubai.

The development is expected to become a tourist attraction in its own right, offering unparalleled views of Dubai’s skyline (recently voted the best in the world), the clear waters of the Arabian Gulf and ‘Ain Dubai’, the world’s largest and tallest observation wheel.

Dubai Harbour will sit at the doorstep of JBR and Palm Jumeirah.

“We are happy that this new project, which represents a unique and innovative new addition to the region’s tourism landscape, opens up a range of new opportunities to investors,” Sheikh Mohammad said during the announcement of the project.

“’Dubai Harbour’ creates a venue for new investments that support our vision for this important sector and promises to further accelerate the expansion of the tourism industry in the UAE, which is already growing rapidly,” he added.

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To be developed in phases, the ‘Dubai Harbour’ project will be completed in four years once ground has been broken, just in time for Dubai’s expected 2020 milestone of receiving 1-million cruise visitors per year.

A DP World official told Cruise Arabia & Africa that the focus of Dubai Harbour’s cruise terminal would be attracting global cruise lines to include Dubai as an overnight port call on their itineraries, while Mina Rashid would remain the primary port for Dubai to Dubai ‘turnaround’ cruises.

Dubai is currently the homeport of five major cruise lines that sail in the Arabian Gulf throughout the winter cruise season.

The multi-billion dollar project underscores the importance of the cruise tourism sector for Dubai, with the ruler, Sheikh Mohammad, pointing out that cruise tourism was a modern variation of the city’s long-standing reliance on the ocean for its economic development.

“Our region has had a long and historic relationship with the sea, and today we are seeing another initiative inspired by this age-old tradition that opens up new horizons for development,” he said. “We have great aspirations for the tourism sector, which is one of the main pillars of our economic development and an important source of national income.”

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The residential aspect of the project will include high and low rise buildings, waterfront villas and houses, with a wide selection of retail outlets, restaurants and cafes. The destination will also feature several hotels, one of which will offer an internal water station built under it providing direct access to its facility for guests coming by sea.

Cruise passengers disembarking at Dubai Harbour without a shore excursions booked will also be able to take advantage of a highly integrated public transport system to take them around the city. A monorail will connect ‘Dubai Harbour’ to the surrounding areas and there will be multi-mode transport systems within the development.

Visitors can access ‘Dubai Harbour’ either from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street, a bridge that connects them directly from Sheikh Zayed Road or the monorail system that will link to the Dubai Metro from both Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island. A pedestrian bridge with a jogging and cycling track will also connect ‘Dubai Harbour’ to Palm Jumeirah.

Dubai Harbour will be fully intregrated with Dubai Metro and the Palm Jumeirah MonoRail

The project will also feature water stations in various areas of the destination. Key ones to be built under the shopping mall and select hotels will offer direct access to the buildings.

Additionally, ‘Dubai Harbour’ will offer a high quality internal transport network and a connected road grid and monorail system that can transport passengers between different areas of the destination such as the cruise terminal, the hotels, the yacht club, the shopping mall, Skydive Dubai and the ‘Dubai Lighthouse’.

The project’s roads will be designed to enable the destination to host Formula races. A pedestrian bridge will also be constructed linking the yacht club area to the shopping mall and Skydive, making it easy for guests to simply walk off the ship and into the beating heart of Dubai.

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