(10:25 a.m. EDT) -- With the goals of offering more Dubai cruise departures and drawing travelers from markets in China and India, Carnival Corporation will develop a new cruise terminal in Dubai, in partnership with Dubai-based Meraas holding company.
The agreement designates the new terminal as the city's main cruise tourism hub, slated to open in October 2020.
When completed, the project will feature as many as four cruise terminals with the capacity for six ships, including Carnival's largest ones, to call at the same time.
The partnership -- signed by His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, group chairman of Meraas, and Arnold W. Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. -- means that Carnival Corp. will be working closely with Meraas to develop and manage the terminal and to grow cruise tourism opportunities in the region.
"We welcome visitors from across the world and provide them with an exceptional tourism experience," said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, who approved the development. "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."
According to a statement from Carnival Corp. -- which owns popular cruise brands Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Seabourn and Cunard Line -- the agreement supports the Dubai Tourism Vision 2020 plan, which aims to draw 20 million visitors to Dubai each year.
Arnold 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."
Last spring, Dubai Harbour was launched and will eventually comprise 20 million square feet, featuring a shopping mall, luxury apartments, restaurants, hotels, cafes and even a yacht club, as well as the Dubai Lighthouse, offering a viewing platform for panoramic views of the city.
Many lines -- including Celebrity, Fred. Olsen, Royal Caribbean, Oceania, Seabourn and Cunard -- already have Dubai calls or departures on their itineraries. Last year, P&O Cruises announced it will base its Oceana cruise ship in Dubai in 2019 -- the first time the line will homeport a ship in the Arabian Gulf. Earlier this year, MSC Cruises decided to move a second ship to Dubai at the end of 2018.
And next year Royal Caribbean confirmed it will base Jewel of the Seas in Dubai.
--By Ashley Kosciolek, Editor