Doha, Qatar (QA)
Hamad International Airport lies by the waterfront of the Arabian Gulf, about 14km east of Qatar's capital, Doha. Due to open in 2009, after a series of costly delays, it finally opened in 2014.
It has one large terminal building with five concourses. Concourses A, B and C are fully operational, while Concourses D and E are still under construction. Departure gates are on Level 1, and check-in and Arrivals gates are on Level 2.
The terminal hosts a glitzy shopping mall with 70 high-end shops, 30 cafés and restaurants, a spa, two hotels, squash courts and a public mosque. However, there is limited seating, and some travellers have reported eating options being overly expensive and of mediocre quality.
A second terminal is planned, and scheduled to coincide with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, due to be held in Qatar.
The airport is very near the city centre, and a taxi may be your best option. There is no train connection.
Taxis are metered, clean and reliable - and all run by state-owned company, Mowasalat. Make sure you're carrying Qatari Riyals, as taxi drivers only accept cash in local currency. Journey time is around 20 minutes to central Doha.
Cost: Starting at QAR 25 (Around QAR 35 to the city centre)
Location: Taxi Pavilion, exit the Arrivals hall and turn left
Buses are also run by Mowasalat. To use the bus system, you'll need to buy a Karwa Smartcard first. You can take route 109 or 747. The 747 will take you to the city centre in 20-25 minutes. See more route information here: http://dohahamadairport.com/airport-guide/to-from-the-airport/bus
Cost: QAR 10 for a Karwa Smartcard 24 Limited (valid for two trips within 24 hrs) or QAR 20 for Karwa Smartcard 24 Unlimited (valid for unlimited trips within 24 hrs)
Buying tickets: From the driver
Location: Bus Pavilion, outside the terminal building to the right
Despite the opulence of this new airport, seating is in short supply. If you want to avoid fighting for a place to sit before your flight head to the Oryx Lounge. The lounge is free for business and first class passengers; economy passengers must pay QAR 140. You’ll have access to a games rooms, food, showers, and comfortable seating.
There are two queues at passport control: one is the regular immigration control queue and the other is for passengers who have been given a hotel voucher by the airline. The desk for passengers with hotel vouchers will get you a speedier exit so you can be ferried directly to your hotel. (Some airline tickets entitle you to a free hotel stay if you have a long stopover – check with your airline).
Considering how upscale the airport is, you would expect the food to match. Unfortunately, the food options are simply adequate. There are some gems: Marché offers fresh food, while Jamocha Café has great Qatari coffee and pastries. Stop by Argo Tea Café to enjoy 30 different blends of tea created from 100% natural ingredients.
All are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Car rental angencies can be found in the Ground Transportation Centre, across the street from the terminal as you exit arrivals hall.
The renter must have an international driver's license and a credit card. Local currency only.
If you want to learn a bit more about Qatari artwork, just take a walk around the airport. One of the main attractions is the 23-foot tall teddy sculpture by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. A member of Qatar’s royal family bought it for $6.8 million and it stands in the centre of the airport. Work by Qatari and Western artists such as Tom Claassen, Damien Hirst, and Jenny Holzer are displayed across the airport.
The Vitality Centre is a haven of relaxation equipped with swimming pools, hydrotherapy tubs, squash courts, a gym, a spa, and showers. Treat yourself to a massage or a warm soak between flights and forget about all your worries. You can return to the spa all day long once you have enjoyed a massage and kept the receipt. Single entry is QAR 130.
Location: above the Airport Hotel, between concourse A and B, use the elevator near the giant teddy bear
If you plan on leaving the transit area of Doha airport, it is likely you will need a visa. Passport holders of these 34 countries can get a visa on arrival for QAR 100. You can pay by card but if the card machine is down you will have to use cash to buy a prepaid card to give to the immigration officers (which costs more). Ensure that other people are paying by card before joining queue.
International cuisine is on offer at this casual restaurant. Sandwiches, salad, and meat dishes are just a selection of options on the extensive menu. Try the mint and lime juice for a refreshing before your flight!
Main Terminal, airside, concourse D, level 0, north node
The textured fabrics and comfy seating of this homely café are meant to resemble a majilis - a gathering place. Enjoy local coffee (made with an Italian Elektra machine) or tea, as well as snacks like traditional mezzes, dates, and other confections.
Main Terminal, airside, Concourse C, departures area
Hours: 24 hours
Built-in humidors and knowledgeable staff will help you choose among their exclusive selection of premium cigars, liquor, and smoking accessories.
Main Terminal, airside, Duty Free Plaza South
Hours: 24 hours
Sample and purchase some of Qatar's local flavours and gourmet foods such as coffee, baklava, dates, and nuts. The decadent selection make agreat souvenir or a unique gift for a flight home.
Main Terminal, airside, Duty Free Plaza South
Hours: 24 hours
The Apple Station offers free Apple desktop computers and outlets for charging your electronics. There are also recliners and a play area for children nearby.
If you’re flying Business or First Class with Qatar Airways, you’re in for a special treat: their Premium Terminal. A porter will help you with your bags and usher you through a private immigration and security check. From there you will have access to a cloak room, nursery, PlayStation room, and smoking lounge.
Indulge in poached eggs, waffles with berries and whipped cream for breakfast, or a smattering of fresh salad, stews, and desserts for lunch and dinner. Relax for a bit in their full spa, including a Jacuzzi and massage chairs before freshening up with a shower.
Showers are located in the Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Center at the Airport Hotel. Showers can also be found in the lounges.
If you want to travel in comfort, you can book a chauffeur-driven limousine from the airport to anywhere in Qatar. Drivers are available 24 hours a day and bookings can be made by calling +974-44626858 (for airport to hotel bookings) or on arrival at the Mowsalat Limousine kiosk in the Arrivals hall.
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If you’re able to go landside during a layover, a great way to see some of Doha’s attractions is through a taxi tour. The fares are inexpensive by big city standards so you can see a lot on a personal tour of Doha. Visit the man-made island known as The Pearl, which is approximately 30 minutes away from the airport.