QE2's final Cunard voyage was from Southampton to Dubai with a full passenger list. It commenced on 11 November 2008 and arrived in Dubai on 26 November. QE2 was met by a flotilla of 120 smaller vessels.
On QE2's arrival in Dubai, she was greeted with a fly-past from an Emirates A380 super jumbo jet and a huge fireworks display, while thousands of people gathered at the Port Rashid, waving the flags of Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates.
QE2 was officially handed over to Dubai on 27 November, 2008 after all passengers had left the ship.
Shortly after her final passengers were disembarked, she was moved slightly forward to the cargo area of the port, to free up the passenger terminal for other cruise vessels.
The original plan for QE2 was for her to be refurbished and berthed permanently at Nakheel's Palm Jumeirah as a luxury floating hotel. It was reported this would see QE2 transformed into a tourist destination in Dubai, however due to the Global Financial Crisis, QE2 has remained moored at Port Rashid awaiting a decision on her future.
On 24 June 2009, QE2 made her first journey after nearly eight months of inactivity since the liner arrived in Dubai. She manoeuvered with the assistance of tugs to the Dubai Drydocks for inspection and hull repainting
On 10 July 2009, it was revealed that QE2 might sail to Cape Town, South Africa, to become a floating hotel (for use primarily during the 2010 FIFA World Cup), in a Dubai World sponsored venture at the V&A Waterfront. This was confirmed by Nakheel on 20 July 2009. The arrival of QE2 in Cape Town was expected to create many local jobs, including Hotel staff, restaurant staff, chefs, cleaners and shop attendants, all being sourced from the local workforce.
For the voyage, QE2 was registered under the flag of Vanuatu, and Port Vila (her new home port) was painted on her stern, replacing Southampton.
However, in January 2010, it was confirmed she would not be brought to Cape Town due to regulatory issues in the South African port.
Throughout 2010, 2011 and 2012, the QE2 remained berthed at Port Rashid in Dubai. She was maintained in a seaworthy condition and generated her own power cycling through her nine-MAN B&W engines.
A live-in crew of approximately 50 people maintained QE2 to a high standard. She was painted, maintained, repaired and kept seaworthy. Her Dubai owners have spent a considerable amount of money on the ship and QE2 is in excellent condition due to this.
Other activities include cabin checks, and overhauls of machinery, engines, plumbing and air-conditioning. Istithmar were considering plans for QE2 which may involve the ship sailing to an alternative location under her own power.
On 31 December 2011 the QE2 was the location of a lavish New Year's Eve party in Dubai. The black tie event was run by Global Event Management and included over 1,000 guests and attracted much media attention.
On 2 July 2012 in a coordinated press release, the ship's owner, operator and Port Rashid operator, DP Ports World, jointly announced QE2 would re-open in Port Rashid as a 300 bed hotel after an 18-month refit.
The release claimed the ship was to be refitted to 'restore original features', including her 1994-2008 'Heritage Trail' of Cunard artifacts. The ship was to be berthed alongside a redeveloped Port Rashid cruise terminal which would double as a maritime museum. However nothing happened following this announcement.
With monthly berthing and maintenance charges claimed to be £650,000 per month, it was reported that a Chinese salvage crew arrived at the vessel on December 21, to replace the V-Ship's crew, who had been maintaining the vessel since it arrived at Port Rashid.
However, Cunard Line, QE2's former owners dismissed the reports as "pure speculation" in a public statement on their Facebook page, after receiving hundreds of complaints from former QE2 fans.
Out of the dismay of the scrapping speculation, a plan was revealed to return QE2 to Great Britain and berth her in London. The "QE2 London" project includes a £20 million bid for QE2 and a further £40 million refurbishment that is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs in London, with the QE2 docked near the O2 Arena.
It has reportedly obtained the support of noted London Mayor Boris Johnson, as well as the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.
However, a rival bid for QE2 was officially announced on 17 January. This plan will see QE2 sail to Asia for use as a luxury hotel. QE2 has moved to the dry dock in preparation for her voyage east.
The plan includes a full scale refurbishment of QE2, to include Mechlin star restaurants, five star interiors, a large shopping precinct and a QE2 Cafe.