I started my aviation journey in 2015, 7 years ago, when I joined Hamad International Airport, Doha, the State of Qatar, to administer the airport’s security systems. I still remember those days very vividly and cherish their memory deeply.
As a five-star airline and airport, every new joiner has a predetermined and very well-established process. From the moment when you land, you are taken through one of the airport’s stylish lounges where you can serve a meal or take refreshments. Once the immigration process is finalized, you are then taken by the driver to your allocated accommodation. Five stars welcome from the beginning to the end. The next day a meticulously well-arranged induction process takes place when you are issued your ID card, and, at the end of the day, you are taken to meet your new colleagues and line manager. For a new joiner can be quite impressive how robotically well organized such a complex apparatus called Qatar Airways Group can function, and I can recognize that I was as well indeed very impressed.
But the moment I arrived at the Hamad International Airport (HIA) and saw my office was even more exhilarating. From that day onwards, I am fascinated every morning when I arrive at the airport, and, on my way to the office, I pass through the Departures Hall. You see, HIA is a work of art ever evolving into something even more beautiful; it is a jewelry of an airport. HIA is indeed the best and the most beautiful airport in the world.
Art has a significant meaning in HIA, and various art pieces can be seen strategically positioned all over the airport. The purpose of the art exhibition hosted within the passenger terminal is to celebrate and promote the region’s heritage and the world culture in the most exquisite possible way.
A public art installation – a giant falcon – by the Dutch artist and sculptor Tom Claassen meets the passengers outside the Departures Hall of HIA. In his unique signature sculptural style, Claassen created the Falcon for HIA as an abstract representation of Qatar’s national bird.
Once you enter the departures hall, your eyes are taken by the two gigantic iconic sculptures – titled the Flying Man – designed by renowned Iraqi artist Dia Al-Azzawi to honor the advantages of air traffic in the modern age. Although the statues are positioned in the Arrivals Meet and Greet Hall, on the East and West ends, since they are 12 meters tall, they can better be seen from the Departures Hall.
The most famous teddy bear in the world is the central art piece at HIA and is located at the heart of the airport, South Node, right after immigration and security. This enormous yellow bear, Untitled Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer, is a 7 meters canary yellow teddy bear sculpted from bronze that sits peacefully inside a lamp. It’s a playful piece that humanizes the space around it and reminds travelers of childhood or precious objects from home.
At the far end of the airport, North Node, the passengers can admire the colossal, depersonalized clown-like figure sculpture weighing around 15 tons and standing 10 meters tall called Small Lie by the American artist KAWS. The artist was inspired by his childhood memories of wooden toys, so the art work is driven by emotional tension of strength and kindness.
Many more artworks are displayed throughout the passenger terminal, and many more are expected to come as HIA expands. The passenger terminal expansion project will add a 10,000m² indoor tropical garden in a new central concourse and a 268m² water feature. The 85m grid shell roof will incorporate performance glass for controlling and filtering the light required by the trees. A new 11,720m² F&B area will be created as part of the expansion, with more gates, new duty-free and passenger amenity areas, a new hotel plus lounge, and a remote transfer baggage facility to be built. The terminal expansion will increase the annual passenger capacity of HIA from 24 million to 53 million by 2022, in phase A of the project, with phase B, which will be completed after 2022, planned to enhance the airport’s capacity to more than 60 million passengers annually. For a professional like myself, this will be a big challenge and something I am looking forward to being part of.
In terms of lounges, there are around 13 airport lounges and one hotel functioning non-stop and offering passengers guaranteed five-star services, with exclusive facilities like a pool, jacuzzi, massage, and squash court. There are also many restaurants and coffee shops in the terminal that can satisfy any customer at any hour, day or night. The most luxurious boutique shops from the most expensive and famous brands are displayed at HIA to indulge the passengers and enhance their satisfaction.
In terms of the IT-related hardware and technology deployed, passengers flying from HIA can already make use of self-service check-in and bag drop service, which in the future will be enhanced to support self-service excess baggage payment and the ability to purchase upgrades and lounge access. A total of 62 automated border control e-gates are now live at HIA, allowing enrolled nationals and residents to swiftly pass-through departure and arrival immigration processes using biometric Iris recognition technology and travel document verification. Moreover, self-boarding and Smart Security trials have already been completed and are expected to be in production soon. Smart Security lanes are planned to be used in the North Node, which is currently part of the HIA Expansion project and is due to finalize by September 2022. HIA aims to create a “smart airport” by leveraging the latest technology to generate a seamless and secure airport experience and by offering self-service at every stage of the journey, from check-in to boarding.
HIA’s mission is to “redefine airport experiences, ensuring smooth, effortless and comfortable travel for all our passengers,” For the last seven years, I have been honored and happy to be part of this amazing journey. Looking forward to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022!
Hamad International Airport, Doha, State of Qatar, has been named the World’s Best Airport 2022 for the second year in a row by the prestigious Skytrax – World Airports Awards. This blog post is my little tribute and a small token of gratitude to Hamad International Airport.
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