Dubai in collaboration with Carnival Corporation, the US-based cruise company is working to develop the next phase of the emirate’s plan to become a global cruise tourism hub.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has approved plans to make the Dubai Cruise Terminal the main hub in the emirate by October 2020.

Dubai Harbour will be home to two cruise terminal buildings, spanning a total of 30,000 square metres, joined by a single quay of about 1 km, capable of accommodating up to three cruise ships concurrently, as well as up to 13,200 passengers at a time. Two further terminal buildings are planned that will increase capacity to six cruise ships at the same time.

The plan follows the signing of a partnership agreement between Dubai-based Meraas and Carnival Corporation that aims to transform Dubai into a major regional maritime tourism hub. The plan is part of Dubai Tourism Vision 2020, which aims to attract 20 million visitors a year to the emirate.

Under the agreement, signed by Abdulla Al Habbai, Group Chairman of Meraas, and Arnold W Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, the companies will collaborate across port development, terminal management and new cruise development opportunities at Dubai Harbour and the broader region.

Sheikh Mohammed said, “We welcome visitors from across the world and provide them with an exceptional tourism experience. 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.”

Al Habbai added, “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 for families, such as sharia-compliant tours.”

According to the Cruise Lines Industry Association, more than 40 million people worldwide will travel on cruise ships annually by 2030, up 40% from 26 million passengers in 2017. At a local level, the maritime tourism sector is expected to contribute more than AED1.5 billion to Dubai’s economy by 2030.