In 2022, Qatar became the first Arab country to host the FIFA World Cup. Hamad International Airport reflects on its preparations for the event

While Qatar geared up to welcome football fans for the FIFA World Cup 2022, the country’s award-winning Hamad International Airport (DOH) left no stone unturned in its efforts to ensure passengers travelling to, from or through the hub had a smooth and seamless experience.
Viewing zone HIA

Football fans waiting for departing flights were able to continue watching

Preparations for the mega-event began well in advance, with the development of an Airport Operations Plan that was thoroughly tested during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021. A peer review was undertaken, with the plan evaluated by aviation industry bodies and organisations that had hosted events on a similar scale. An Event Management Centre, manned and operated 24/7, enabled accurate data collection, co-ordination of landside and airside processes, and quick, on the spot decision-making.

Passenger overflow areas were introduced at both Hamad International and Doha International airports, capable of accommodating 24,000 and 12,000 departing passengers per day, respectively. This improved the flow of travellers and fans throughout the tournament. The facilities hosted a variety of F&B options, retail and gaming areas, kids’ attractions, luggage storage and flight information screens, as well as showing the tournament games. Passengers with between four and eight hours before their departure could access this space, regardless of the airline they were flying with.

HIA World Cup parade

Themed parades proved popular at the airport during the FIFA World Cup 2022

A slew of passenger-centric experiences was introduced to allow fans to continue celebrating their love of the game. More than 20 themed parades were hosted by the airport, celebrating, among other things, Qatari culture and heritage. The airport also introduced virtual activities such as a ‘try your team’s jersey’ booth, and an interactive augmented reality activity with La’eeb (the official mascot for the FIFA World Cup 2022) reacting with the players.

Hamad International Airport unveiled the first phase of its expansion project in November 2022. This extended the main terminal by 125,000m2. The most distinctive element of the new space is The Orchard, a 6,000m2 indoor tropical garden with a 575m2 water feature. With over 300 trees and 25,000 plants and shrubs, it is a place of tranquillity, wrapped around a 16,000m2 multi-dimensional retail and F&B offering.

Hamad International Airport’s annual capacity is now more than 58 million passengers per year, serving over 170 destinations globally. With the second phase of its expansion project underway, the airport will soon see its capacity grow to more than 70 million a year.