Guests take a picture before boarding the QE2 for its New Year's Eve party on Saturday night. Jaime Puebla / The National
Guests take a picture before boarding the QE2 for its New Year's Eve party on Saturday night. Jaime Puebla / The National

No Lindsay Lohan, but the QE2 proves to be the star of its own NYE party

It's a dangerous game brandishing the power of "celebrity appearances" to help promote your party, as the organisers of the New Year's Eve bash on the QE2, Global Events Management, can no doubt confirm. For all the racket about Lindsay Lohan and Pamela Anderson, both supposedly "confirmed" for the exclusive black-tie event aboard the famous ocean liner that has been docked in Dubai's Port Rashid for the past three years, star spotters were instead left with a few, let's just say less-established names from the international famous list.

Among the confirmed sightings on Saturday night were singer Nadine Coyle (of Girls Aloud and, of late, a less-than-enthusiastic solo career), actor Liam Cunningham (recently seen in 3D swords-and-sandals fest Clash of the Titans), Vanessa Feltz (broadcaster and, according to a 2003 list, "93rd Worst Briton") and, er, Lady Victoria Hervey, a name that might whirr up the memory banks of only those who were partial to British reality shows in the mid-noughties. Rumours of Shah Rukh Khan's waltz down the increasingly unnecessary red carpet came to nothing and British cricketer Allan Lamb could well have been there, but he's hardly a face most are likely instantly to recognise.

As for Anderson and Lohan, well, Pam was also supposed to be attending an event in Vegas (hardly a taxi ride away), while LiLo's representatives issued a "cease and desist" letter to the party planners on December 29 requesting they stop using her name. In the letter, Lohan's attorney, Stephanie Ovadia, states that the actress "will suffer harm and damage" if the company continues to use her name without permission, and that she's not afraid to sue. Oh dear.

But celebrities don't maketh the party, and New Year's Eve still went ahead uninterrupted on-board the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 without the presence of Baywatch's finest or the Betty Ford Clinic regular. And it's probably best that they weren't there because for a while it seemed like the shindig was vying to be the most British event in Dubai history. Aside from the obvious, the cruise liner itself (which interestingly, isn't named after the British monarch, but her mum, with the "2" signifying it as the second vessel with the name) and the Brit-tilted celeb count, a sound-and-light show screened on the side of the vessel before embarkation provided a medley of England's musical history, featuring The Beatles, Queen, Spandau Ballet, Coldplay and The Verve. The accompanying video highlighted the QE2's illustrious 43-year career carting some 2.5 million holidaymakers some six million miles (not all at the same time), but gleaned over the three years the liner has spent docked in Port Rashid.

Once finally on deck (the first two hours were spent chomping on canapés on the dock), the Britishness continued, with a performance from the genuinely awesome Bootleg Beatles, a covers band that have been doing Fab Four impressions for longer than the real deal ever managed. But Union Jacks came crashing to the ground afterwards with the distinctly unBritish yodelling of Bamboleo. Now, the line-up of cheery guitar strummers on stage were billed as The Gypsies, leaving most to assume they were a tribute act for the original Kings. But with the top-deck dance floor abuzz, it mattered not, despite organisers having brandished the actual "Gypsy Kings" as a confirmed act on the night. Still, it was The Gypsies who welcomed in 2012, with an impressive firework display off the starboard (or was it port?) side topped only by the epic show going on over at the Burj Khalifa in the distance.

Unfortunately, the party was almost solely confined to the outdoors, with security guards strategically placed by lift doors on each floor inside to prevent curious revellers from having a nose around. Even the original bathroom areas were off limits, with guests having to use Portaloos placed on deck. But with spirits high and New Year cheekiness turned up a notch, some did manage to have a quick explore around this once proud vessel while backs were turned, revealing a cruise ship that seems bizarrely - and quite unsettlingly - untouched since its days on the ocean, with seats scattered around various halls and function rooms left as though only recently vacated. Should any millionaire fancy hosting a rather unique murder mystery night, this would be a spectacular setting.

While the QE2's first major event since landing in Dubai wasn't the ultra-exclusive, star-strewn affair as touted, it was still a marvellous knees-up nonetheless - and could be the first of many. As the night proved, although its sea legs may have gone, the legendary boat itself is a far bigger celebrity than any of the names that may or may not have been on-board.

* Alex Ritman

Masters of the Air

Directors: Cary Joji Fukunaga, Dee Rees, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Tim Van Patten

Starring: Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle, Barry Keoghan, Sawyer Spielberg

Rating: 2/5


Created by: Darren Star

Starring: Lily Collins, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park

Rating: 2.75/5

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture


Creator: Tima Shomali

Starring: Tara Abboud, Kira Yaghnam, Tara Atalla

Rating: 4/5


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others


Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599


David White might be new to the country, but he has clearly already built up an affinity with the place.

After the UAE shocked Pakistan in the semi-final of the Under 19 Asia Cup last month, White was hugged on the field by Aayan Khan, the team’s captain.

White suggests that was more a sign of Aayan’s amiability than anything else. But he believes the young all-rounder, who was part of the winning Gulf Giants team last year, is just the sort of player the country should be seeking to produce via the ILT20.

“He is a delightful young man,” White said. “He played in the competition last year at 17, and look at his development from there till now, and where he is representing the UAE.

“He was influential in the U19 team which beat Pakistan. He is the perfect example of what we are all trying to achieve here.

“It is about the development of players who are going to represent the UAE and go on to help make UAE a force in world cricket.” 


Ms Al Ameri likes the variety of her job, and the daily environmental challenges she is presented with.

Regular contact with wildlife is the most appealing part of her role at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

She loves to explore new destinations and lives by her motto of being a voice in the world, and not an echo.

She is the youngest of three children, and has a brother and sister.

Her favourite book, Moby Dick by Herman Melville helped inspire her towards a career exploring  the natural world.


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5


Saudi Arabia

Joy: Delivers car services with affordable prices

Karaz: Helps diabetics with gamification, IoT and real-time data

Medicarri: Medical marketplace that connects clinics with suppliers

Mod5r: Makes automated and recurring investments to grow wealth

Stuck: Live, on-demand language support to boost writing

Walzay: Helps in recruitment while reducing hiring time


Eighty6: Marketplace for restaurant and supplier procurements

FarmUnboxed: Helps digitise international food supply chain

NutriCal: Helps F&B businesses and governments with nutritional analysis

Wellxai: Provides insurance that enables and rewards user habits


Amwal: A Shariah-compliant crowd-lending platform

Deben: Helps CFOs manage cash efficiently

Egab: Connects media outlets to journalists in hard-to-reach areas for exclusives

Neqabty: Digitises financial and medical services of labour unions


Monak: Provides financial inclusion and life services to migrants