Eng. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, chief operating officer of Hamad International Airport, reflects on the recently completed terminal expansion and explains what’s next for the Qatari hub
How will the expansion affect passengers?
We completed nine mega projects as part of the first phase of our expansion plan, aimed at better serving our commercial partners and creating an unprecedented passenger experience. With the expansion, we added 125,000m² of terminal space across three levels, thus increasing airport capacity to more than 58 million passengers per year.
At the centre of the terminal expansion is The Orchard, a 6,000m² indoor tropical paradise that will alter the airport experience for passengers, whether they are departing or transferring through Hamad International Airport (DOH). With over 300 trees and more than 25,000 plants sourced from sustainable forests around the world, we are going over and above stress-free travelling.
Eng. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer has been the chief operating officer of HIA since June 2014
We have also introduced more than 65 world-class retail and dining outlets, featuring many world firsts, such as a Fendi Boutique with the first Fendi Café in an airport, and the first Ralph’s Coffee Shop in an airport. The North Plaza also houses the world’s first airport-based Oreo Café. We have launched the first Dior Boutique in HIA, the only FIFA shop in the world, the only Thom Brown store in an airport, and the largest Ray-Ban store in an airport. Our retail offering also includes prestigious brands such as Gucci, Burberry, Tiffany and Co, Bvlgari and Louis Vuitton, whose flagship store features a façade made of recycled plastics.
HIA will now have three transfer halls within the terminal and the expanded area – Transfer C – will have a capacity of approximately 5,600 passengers per hour. We have introduced the latest technology and innovations that will accelerate the transfer process, giving passengers sufficient time to explore, unwind and relax before their flights.
The focal point of the expansion is The Orchard, an indoor tropical garden with a large water feature at its heart
What technology have you introduced?
Through our partnerships with technological entities and experts, we have invested in the latest AI tools for a full digital transformation; including robotics, block-chain technology and other cutting-edge digital tools that improve operational efficiency. The transfer halls, which have 14 security lanes, are installed with the latest Smiths Detection HI-SCAN 6040 CTiX scanners and we have developed an image processing room for centralised security inspection and analysis.
Our dedicated remote transfer baggage facility, built to store baggage with more than 150 minutes’ transfer time, has a capacity of 10,000 bags at a time and can process more than 10,800 bags an hour using an individual containerised system, meaning each bag is individually stored within a tagged and trackable container. It is the largest such system in the world.
Lastly, to provide air traffic control facilities for the Western Expansion Area, a virtual air traffic control system, the first of its kind operating in the Middle East, provides direct visual view and graphical representation of the area.
What elements were designed with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in mind?
We always want to be the best airport in the world. When we announced the expansion in 2019, it was to showcase our determination to introduce new airport operation standards that will meet passenger demand, respond to a growing airline and other commercial partners and be in line with Qatar’s 2023 vision.
Completed ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the first phase of the expansion provided a unique experience for returning passengers and first-time visitors to Qatar. We always want to enrich passengers’ lives – at every touchpoint in their journey.
Hamad's retail offering includes what the airport describes as “an unrivalled selection of luxury boutiques”
What sets HIA apart from other airports?
Our goal is to be the ‘airport of the future’, and we are on track to meeting this. We are constantly searching for the latest innovations that we can adopt to enhance our operations, as well as creating strong collaborations with brands and other commercial entities to introduce industry firsts. We constantly invest in our people so passengers can experience the best customer service an airport has to offer.
For passengers travelling to, through or from Hamad International Airport, waiting will never feel like waiting.
How did you promote Qatari culture during the World Cup (and beyond)?
We introduced multiple experiences at Hamad International Airport during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, such as parades that highlighted the Qatari culture through music and traditional dance, fan and viewing zones, an augmented reality interactive activity with the La’eeb mascot (based on the traditional headdress worn by Qatari men), and multiple digital campaigns that showcased Qatari culture, heritage and passion for football.
Additionally, HIA is home to multiple art installations, including the Desert Horse sculpture by Qatari designer Ali Hassan, which is located outside the Arrivals Hall.
HIA recently won ISO 14001, the business improvement standard that guides organisations in implementing a robust environmental management system
What next for HIA?
Phase B of the expansion project, which will further increase our airport capacity to more than 70 million passengers, will commence in 2023. This new phase will add 95,000m² – Concourses D and E – that will connect to The Orchard. A new western Satellite Concourse of 300,000m² will in turn connect to the existing terminal via the passenger train system. Lastly, we will introduce a second cargo terminal designed to handle 3.3 million tonnes of transfer cargo per year.