Hamad International Airport represents a new era: for aviation in Qatar and for the nation. While we’re just 4 km from Doha International – the airport that has admirably served the country since the 1960s – this is effectively a total change in size, scope and standards. Here’s the story of how this transition was planned and achieved.
As Qatar has grown so has its airline – and demand at its airport. Ten years ago just over 5 million people a year passed through. Now that’s closer to 25 million and likely to continue rising rapidly. Even with frequent expansion and refurbishment it has long been evident that Doha International Airport couldn't be the answer the nation needed.
This is also because Qatar has a spirit of not just delivering but of exceeding. While a new airport with more capacity was the obvious answer it wasn't the chosen one. Instead a plan was created for a new airport that could do more: that could define the future.
Driven by the combined vision of HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive of the airport, an ambitious and exciting blueprint was drawn up: for a vast airport on a site a third the size of Doha itself, that would be purpose-built for the world’s largest aircraft, that would be designed to provide the ultimate passenger experience, and that would serve the nation and region for generations to come.
Spacious and stunning Hamad International Airport is all about flow. The flow of passengers, smooth and seamless. For that reason the airport has an aquatic theme. Many buildings feature a water motif, such as the passenger terminal’s wave-styled roof. The surrounding landscaping uses desert plants irrigated with recycled water. And the private Amiri terminal resembles a billowing sail.
Other landmarks are the Islamic crescent-shaped control tower, visible from Doha; and the mosque, with its towering minaret and awe-inspiring glass dome that resembles a water droplet.
The main terminal is designed in an oval shape to minimize the distance passengers need to travel – to connect, to board, to disembark, to shop, dine or indeed use any facilities. Despite the huge scale – for example, check-in and retail areas are both around 12 times the size of Doha International Airport – everything is under one roof and cleverly designed to be accessible. Space and light are maximized through skylights and arched columns. There are multiple levels, three concourses and – throughout – a standard of outstanding finish commensurate with Qataris’ love of perfection and quality.
Next to the airport 100 hectares have been set aside for an Airport City – with future commercial development opportunities available such as a free trade zone, office and business park, hotels and a retail mall.
Construction began in 2006. The undertaking was immense. For example 60% of the site is land reclaimed from the Arabian Gulf. This involved moving and desalinating 6.5 million cubic meters of waste material for landfill – the largest environmental project the region has ever seen. The first two phases opened in 2014. The third and final phase is now underway.
Hamad International Airport will continue to grow and develop. Once complete, phase 3 will boost our capacity from the current 35 million passengers a year to 53 million.
In addition the Airport City project will extend and diversify the site’s role within aviation generally.