Hamad International Airport, The Gateway to Qatar
For anyone coming to Qatar, planning a holiday in Doha, or a trip for the World Cup 2022, Hamad International Airport (HIA) is a prelude to Doha city and the Qatari way of life. Like the airport, Doha is grand and state-of-the-art, it exudes luxury and convenience, it is thoughtful and user-friendly, but it stays true to its Qatari heritage and culture. So, at the airport, in the city and beyond, expect the unexpected, expect innovation, expect extravagance, but also expect art, culture and heritage, and a nation devoted to convenience and the user experience.
Read on and take a peek at the treasures Hamad International Airport has to discover.
Upon landing, the most striking feature you can see is the airport's modern, architecturally sculpted terminal. The building is a grand design, with imposing glass facades and an undulating roof, rather like the waves of the sea. Adjacent to the main terminal, you can see the private terminal of the Emir. The building, which sits alongside a sunkissed ocean, is designed to look like a host of white boat sails - for a nation born of the pearling industry, it is a nice reference to the country's heritage.
The airport's modern terminals, with their nod to the surrounding environment and Qatari culture, tell of a progressive city, keenly in touch with its roots and heritage. When you exit the airport, you will find a beautifully sculpted and modern city with Arabian architecture and Qatari culture evident in every corner. Indeed, in the awe-inspiring National Museum of Qatar, you will see the desert rose. The spiral mosque on the Corniche will delight you with its 'twist' on the traditional mosque design. Modern skyscrapers, with domed roofs and arabesque patterned facades, may remind you of the country's Persian past. Even the brand new World Cup Stadiums are designed to emulate traditional elements of the Middle East - a Dhow boat, a Bedouin tent, a gahfiya (a traditional woven cap).
Landing in Doha, those first impressions conjured up by Hamad International, provide just a taste of the city's treasures to come.
Inside the terminal building, you can't help but be impressed by the vastness of the building's structure, its modernity, and the attention given to the traveller experience.
The terminal’s high stainless steel roof, spacious concourses, and huge plate glass windows, all help to create a sense of grandeur. State-of-the-art conveniences, like the sleek inter-terminal passenger train, time-saving e-gates and self-service check-in desks, make the airport feel modern, efficient and futuristic.
The airport for all its functionality also feels luxurious - the clean, modern quality of the decor, boutique shopping, high-end restaurants and opulent lounges, at times, make it feel like quite an extravagant building. Works of Art around the terminal, bring a sense of wonder and interest to the space beyond a building from which to arrive and depart.
However, they say the devil is in the detail and even in that Hamad International Airport exceeds expectations. Concourses, Halls and the Duty Free Plaza, not only offer a host of shops, cafes and restaurants, but they also provide travellers with quiet lounges to rest in, computer workstations, play areas for kids, and a spa and showers for unwinding or refreshing. There are free-to-use baby strollers and hand luggage trolleys, chauffeur-driven golf-buggies and a host of other special services - all designed to make life easier and more comfortable for travellers.
Even when exiting from the Arrivals Hall, the process feels well organised, efficient and designed with the visitor in mind. All forms of onward travel are easily accessible, well signposted and reassuringly official. Taxis, buses, hotel shuttles, the Metro, car rental and limousines, as well as plentiful public car parking, are all available. As a visitor to Qatar, or a returning resident, you can rest assured that your journey beyond the airport will be straight-forward and convenient.
Whether you are arriving, departing or transferring through Doha, Hamad International Airport (HIA) is an impressive place to discover on your travels. Consecutively ranked as one of the top ten airports in the world, it has a lot to offer visitors.
Arriving into, or leaving from Doha, you are bound by the usual processes and procedures to help you into the country, or to your onward destination. While it's hard to make any official processes and procedures pain-free, HIA, with its focus on modernity, efficiency, convenience and aesthetics, certainly makes the journey easier and a lot more pleasant.
Read on for information on what to expect when travelling through the airport:
At a Glance
The following list provides a glimpse of Hamad International Airports credentials:
- Opened in 2014, HIA is Qatar’s sole international airport having replaced the former Doha International Airport.
- The airport is approximately 13.5km from the heart of Doha, taking less than 20 minutes to drive the distance between the two.
- Spread over an area of 22 sq km, over 2,000 football pitches could fit within the airport grounds.
- The airport serves over 30 million passengers annually, though in 2016 the airport was named 50th Busiest Airport in the World by passenger traffic, serving an annual total of 37,283,987 passengers.
- Designed to accommodate an increasing volume of passenger and cargo traffic in and out of Doha, the airport was initially built to handle 29 million passengers and 2 million tonnes of cargo annually. Expansion plans, due to be completed by 2022, will increase the airports annual capacity to over 50 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of cargo.
- In the latter half of 2019 works began on the airport expansion. The works include the expansion of the existing airport and cargo terminals, concourses and baggage handling capacity, as well as a new terminal for the airport metro link. The budget for the expansion was set at an eye-watering 1 billion QAR ($274.6 million).
- The existing passenger terminal is an enormous 600,000 m2. Of that area, 40,000 m2 is designated for food and beverages and retail, including one of the world’s largest duty-free areas with over 90 boutiques and stores. The airport expansion will double retail capacity by 2022, increasing the available space from 40,000 m2 to a whopping 75,000 m2. Fortunately, the terminal is well equipped with chauffeur-driven golf-buggies, moving walkways and two inter-terminal passenger trains to transport tired feet to their departure gates!
- The airport’s Departures Hall has approximately 140 check-in counters across 10 rows, plus 62 self-service check-in kiosks and 12 self-service bag drops. Travellers checking-in may also use a mobile visa document checking machine - the first of its kind in any major airport.
- The airport has a total of 63 departure gates, 41 linked to jet bridges. Slightly less than some of the largest airports in the world, but still enough to accommodate up to 100 planes taking off or landing every hour.
- In 2016, HIA launched a Smart Airport Programme. The programme is designed to implement technologies that facilitate fast, efficient and enjoyable airport experiences for travellers. Apart from the self-service check-in facilities installed in 2018, HIA launched (in 2019) a major digital transformation of airport processes to incorporate biometric facial recognition technology. The technology means that check-in, security and boarding will only require the passenger’s face for verification, allowing visitors to move through the airport quickly and easily and in control of their own journey.
- The national carrier for Qatar is Qatar Airways. The airline has a fleet of over 200 planes, including Boeing 777’s and Airbus A380’s, which fly to over 160 worldwide destinations. HIA was the first airport ever designed specifically to accommodate the A380 planes.
- In 2019, HIA won the SKYTRAX 4th Best Airport in the World award. Since 2015, the airport has featured in SKYTRAX’s Top 10 Best Airports in the World, consecutively moving up the leaderboard. The 2019 awards also presented HIA with the title of ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ for the fifth year in a row. The Skytrax awards are based on nominations from millions of passengers across more than 500 participating airports worldwide, making them one of the largest passenger interaction survey awards in the world.
To check whether you require a visa or qualify for visa-free entry into Qatar, read this article on Visas.
If you would like to take advantage of the airport’s meet and greet conveniences, or require assistance on your journey through the airport, check out this article on Special Services.
For information on getting to and from the airport, read our Onward Travel article.
To find out more about Doha and what to do while you are in the city, check out the Explore Qatar section of this website.
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If you are a citizen or a resident of Qatar, or from one of the GCC countries, you can use E-Gates to fast-track through Immigration.
With a wide variety of transport options available to travellers arriving in Qatar, onward travel from the Hamad International Airport is fast and efficient.