New and improved NDIA

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Michael Jackson, the editor of Business Traveller Africa, had the opportunity of both flying through, and visiting Doha in Qatar recently. From an introductory welcome in the world’s first Premium Terminal – a unique and outstanding Business and First Class exclusive terminal at Doha airport – and intrigued by the pace and quality of development in the Gulf, he set out to discover what makes Qatar tick – and to unveil its latest development – the all-new US$200 million Doha International Airport which opens this year.

Qatar is a glittering jewel; an emirate state bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and otherwise entirely surrounded by the Arabian Gulf, which is both rich in oil and gas and has the highest GDP per capita in the world, according to the CIA World Fact Book. Named as Qatara on Ptolomy’s ancient Roman map of the Arabian Peninsula the state has a fascinating and long history of human occupation stretching back thousands of years. The discovery of oil, however, beginning in the 1940s, completely transformed Qatar’s economy.

The country has an estimated reserve of some 15 billion barrels of oil (2.4 km³); while its gas reserves – almost as large as the peninsula itself – are estimated to be between 800 trillion cubic feet (23,000 km3) to 80 trillion cubic feet (2,300 km3) (1 trillion cubic foot is equivalent to about 80 million barrels (13,000,000 m3) of oil). Qataris’ wealth and standard of living compare well with those of Western European states, and with no income tax levied, the country is also one of the two least-taxed sovereign states in the world (the other is Bahrain). While oil and gas will remain the backbone of Qatar’s economy for some time to come, the country is busy stimulating the private sector and developing a ‘knowledgebased economy’. In 2004, it established the Qatar Science & Technology Park to attract and serve technology-based companies and entrepreneurs from overseas and within Qatar, and also established Education City, which consists of an offering of top international colleges.

For the 15th Asian Games held recently in Doha, the capital, it established a Sports City, consisting of Khalifa stadium, the Aspire Sports Academy, aquatic and exhibition centres and many other sportsrelated buildings and centres. Following  the success of these Asian Games, Doha launched an official bid, in October 2007, to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The country’s airline, Qatar Airways, is a flag bearer which serves to introduce the world to Qatar itself, and since its launch just over ten years ago has rapidly become renowned as an aviation and travel industry innovator, achieving many ‘world firsts’. Whilst other airlines contented themselves with superior business class lounges, Qatar Airways, which also manages and operates Doha International Airport, built and opened the world’s first dedicated passenger terminal for First and Business Class passengers at a cost of almost US$100, which opened in

November 2006. Built in just nine months, this 10,000 m² Premium Terminal with its extensive, serene water features offers facilities ranging from exclusive check-in, duty-free shopping, conference rooms, nursery and play area to spa treatment rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis and fine dining restaurants, and has been showered with accolades ever since. In 2007, the year Qatar Airways celebrated its 10th anniversary of flying, the Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport was ranked among the top three premium lounges in the world by respected aviation industry audit, Skytrax.

Open round the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Premium Terminal is being seen as a benchmark in the region and, indeed, in the rest of the world. It is used exclusively for Qatar Airways First and Business Class passengers flying Qatar Airways from Doha or transiting through the Qatari capital. From the moment you step inside, you are met by a concierge in 5-star hotel style, and then introduced to a hassle-free and memorable experience. More than 150 specially trained staff from the hospitality industry around the world were recruited to work in this facility.

Highlights of the Premium Terminal include:

• An amazing, welcoming atrium full of water features

• Dedicated First and Business Class desks

• A Concierge meet and greet service

• Dedicated First and Business

Class lounges

• Fine dining with wide choice of hot and cold Arabic and international cuisine

• Duty-free shopping area of 500m² selling many leading international brands

• Spa, Jacuzzi and sauna for passengers to relax and unwind before their flight

• Massage treatment rooms

• Shower and wash rooms

• Children’s play area and nursery

• Conference and meeting rooms

• A business centre with secretarial services

• Free Internet access stations

• Simulator games and Sony PlayStation games

• Prayer rooms for men and women

• A 24-hour medical centre

• Five boarding gates

According to Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Al Baker, “The Premium Terminal was designed to exceed passengers’ expectations. It’s innovative, it’s unique, and it’s truly one of a kind. The terminal was designed to create an inviting ambience – one of allowing passengers to unwind and enjoy the excellent facilities available such as a spa, Jacuzzi, sauna and some incredible duty-free shopping, all set in the calming, serene surroundings of fantastic water features.” It is truly unparalleled – and quite simply amazing. For business travellers, there’s even a conference room with audio visual facilities, and several meeting rooms together with secretarial services, all available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. There are also numerous computers with free Internet access. Premium passengers flying on codeshare flights operated by Qatar Airways are also eligible to use the Premium Terminal, and Al Baker adds “as some of our passengers will also be travelling with their families, we haven’t forgotten the needs of children who have a special play area, as well as a dedicated nursery.

There is also a doctor and nurse on duty in a fully manned medical centre round the clock.” Qatar Airways set out to be unique in the aviation world from its very inception in 1993. To quote Al Baker again, “Travel by air has reached the point where it is now taken for granted in most corners of the globe. With larger number of passengers and more choice available in the skies, airlines looking to maintain and grow their position in the marketplace must provide a high-quality service with everincreasing efficiency.” In this highly competitive environment, Qatar Airways has undergone a phenomenal expansion period, averaging a 35% growth year-on-year for the past 10 years. Along the way, the airline has garnered many awards and accolades, and is one of only five airlines worldwide to have been awarded a 5-star rating, again by Skytrax.

Now serving more than 80 business and leisure capitals across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Far East, South Asia and North America, the airline is soon to move to its new home, as the first phase of a multi-billion dollar project, the new Doha International Airport is scheduled to open in this year. There has already been a raft of improvements taking place at Doha International Airport, where the arrival and departure halls have been expanded to cope with the increase in number of passengers flying in and out of the airport. An additional 21,000 m² of space has already been added to the existing airport terminal. The number of boarding gates has increased from 10 to 16; there are two additional immigration counters; new e-gates in arrival and departure to speed up processing of passengers; and a sharp increase in the number of aircraft parking bays to cope with the huge expansion of Qatar Airways’ fleet.

Qatar Airways is the airport’s largest customer, operating at least 90 per cent of flights in and out of Doha, operating a modern fleet of all-Airbus aircraft which will reach 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double its existing size. Qatar Airways has 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s on order in total, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is also a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. The ruler of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani, originally determined that an even newer airport was required to satisfy the aviation needs of his country in the 21st Century, and advised at inception of the plan that the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) will have a capacity of 50 million passengers per annum, parking positions for 100 aircraft and handle 2 million tonnes of cargo every year.

 International Airport (NDIA) will be one of the most advanced airports in the world. Its premium terminal facilities, operational efficiency and reputation for passenger convenience will rival anything at the world’s best airports. This, coupled with its unique architecture and glittering waterside location, will ensure a world-class airport experience that forms a spectacular and lasting impression for tourists and business visitors alike. Frequent flight schedules, quick connection times and efficient passenger and cargo processing will be key features of the new airport. To reflect and support the qualities of the five-star Qatar Airways, NDIA will be a world-class facility offering premium service. To assure such a prestigious status, it will feature advanced airport operating systems in all areas of security, safety, aviation technology, facilities, passenger convenience and operational efficiency.

To complement its world-class operations, the new airport will feature landmark architecture. The undulating wave shape of the passenger terminal roof, the elegant sail ship structure for the Emiri terminal, and the intricate droplet-like form of the public mosque, will combine to create a stunning, water-themed environment to compliment the airport’s location alongside the glittering Arabian Gulf. As the main international gateway for the millions of domestic, tourist and business travellers arriving in Doha, the

New Doha International Airport’s (NDIA) Passenger terminal will play an important role in conveying the hospitality, efficiency, convenience and state-of-the-art qualities and aspirations of Qatar. Inside the terminal, the design focus has been on the creation of a spacious, but efficient and convenient airport experience, resulting in a multi-level building with arched columns, skylights and highlighted finishes that enhance the feeling of space. The concourses will be comfortable, attractive and spacious – a welcome change for waiting passengers. The passenger terminal is designed so that all passenger transfers will occur under one roof. With short walking distances between gates, and shorter connection times between flights, passenger waiting and walking times are minimised, all helping to ensure an effortless passenger experience within the facility. An extensive central area has been designed for duty free, other retail, food and beverage, amenities, and airline lounges. All departing passengers will walk through this area. The terminal will also have a 100-room transit hotel with health and entertainment facilities, making waiting for flights a more pleasurable experience. I can’t wait to fly through it.

Fast Facts

• The NDIA will have a land area in excess of 22 square kilometres

• It will handle 50 passengers, 2 million tonnes of cargo and 325 000 arrivals and departures in its first complete year

• Opening day capacity will be 24 million passengers

• The eastern runway will be 4 850m long one of the longest in the world

• The 590 000 square metre passenger terminal facility will be the largest building in Doha, equivalent to the size of some 85 football pitches

• You could fit 12 wide-bodied aircraft in the check-in and retail areas alone

• The shape and design of the buildings echoes a water theme – with the main building being shaped like a wave

• The control tower resembling a crescent moon will be 80m high

• 100 hectares adjacent to the airport have been reserved for commercial development including free trade zones, offices, retail and hotels plus parklands

• 62 million cubic metres of fill have been environmentally reclaimed from the sea and used on the site

• Over 6 500 million cubic metres of improperly disposed household waste has been removed from the site and reengineered in a new environmental landfill site the largest environmental project in the Gulf region

• To conserve energy, the passenger terminal curtain walls are coated to reduce solar exposure and the roof is insulated

• The mechanical systems include CO2 sensors to regulate air intake based on occupancy and displacement ventilation

• The landscaping uses desert-adapted species and is irrigated from recycled waste water

• The land reclamation area of over 22 kilometres required nearly 13 kilometres of armoured sea wall to protect it. Half the site was reclaimed from open sea.

• Over 40 hectares of land, using 300 000 cubic metres of soil will be landscaped with lawn, plants, and over 3 000 trees