With love from Qatar
The first thing that hits you about Qatar from the sky is the immaculate and orderly arranged bright lights at night. This was the first thing I observed as the Qatar Airways flight began its descent into Qatar airspace. Here we go again with another progressive nation; was what I uttered as I was coming from my second home.
What awaited my eyes as I walked into the majestic maze called the Hamad International Airport still astounds me. The human mind can actually think grand. I have passed through some airports in my lifetime but the Hamad International Airport stands out. Two nights without sleep and the majesty of an airport actually cleared any thought of sleep. I wandered around the expansive lounges and shops to acquaint myself with the environment before I settled down to write this short article.
In between writing this piece, a French lady and her three children were beside me and as I knew would happen, a little conversation ensued. Her first son who only speaks French told his mother, that he would want to learn English and speak English like me. I told his mother to tell him, that even I would want to learn French and add to the number of languages I try to speak. What touched me was when they went to the Qatar Airways’ counter close to where we were and they were going to board their flight, all the three children began to wave at me; saying bye, bye, bye and they did this for a while till they were quite far away. Looking up from my laptop and notebook; I waved back with a genuine smile.
The numerous departure gates coupled with the numerous arrival gates, the central foyer where almost all travellers crisscross; the attentive airport staff who are always on the lookout for a confused or stranded traveller; the diligent cleaners; the spanking new reclining seats. Large TV screens everywhere with the pride of Qatar, the channel Al Jazeera. According to Skyscanner, there are three terminals at the Doha airport; departure and transfer terminal, arrival terminal and Qatar Airways Premium terminal. The Doha airport has forty-four satellite gates, large duty-free area and seating areas. There are 3 lounges including the Oryx Lounge, which can be used by premium passengers of any airlines.
Now for those who love figures, according to Wikipedia, construction on the edifice commenced in 2005. The airport (terminal and runway) has been built 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of the older Doha International Airport. It is spread over an area of 2,200 hectares (5,500 acres), and was set to initially serve airlines that will not utilize lounge access. Hamad International Airport was designed to cater for a projected ongoing increase in the volume of traffic. The airport has an initial annual capacity of 29 million passengers.
In 2016, the airport was named the 50th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, serving 37,283,987 passengers, a 20.2% increase from 2015. And in 2019, the airport was ranked as the Worlds Fourth Best Airport. Succinctly put, this is a 5-star airport, the best airport in the Middle East and the 4th best airport in the world (now, everything makes sense as to why I was stunned by the architectural masterpiece).
The Hamad International Airport is money well spent. When a country decides to do something; the country should do it right. Qatar is a case in point. An architectural masterpiece, one would visit again. And what shocked me was to meet a Nigerian Professor who resides in Qatar who told me that Qatar has been able to maximize her gas rather than being known for gas emission.
With the aforementioned paragraph, I thought I had seen it all when I passed through the Hadam International Airport in Doha, Qatar. Alas, what awaited me on my second visit, just left me stupefied, stunned and speechless. Like I said, from the skies, Qatar is a stunner, thanks to the power supply as viewed through the country’s illumination. With a first-hand experience some days earlier, I was able to assimilate what I began to witness; the check-in departure areas were a beehive of activities; the electronic flight schedule boards were digital and real-time (as expected). If you noticed in one of the videos I posted on the twitter thread for this article; during my first experience of the Hadam Airport, whilst shooting a short video; I thought I saw a moving tramp. During my second visit, I boarded the train which I found right inside the station! Wonders never seem to end at this airport; I thought.
Climbing several staircases; ‘levitating on automated staircases; getting confused with the departure signs on several arrows contesting for your attention; the urge to ask Qatar Airways staff or Airport Staff for direction; but convincing yourself and telling yourself ‘dont you understand simple English?’ The Hadam Airport just proved to me, there is so much out there; so much to learn; so much to read; some much to unlearn, learn and re-learn. The airport made me humble.
On my first arrival at this airport; I spotted and waved at the famous Cameroonian footballer Samuel Eto’o Fils who has played for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and several other big clubs. He acknowledged; which was a surprise (considering his aloofness on TV when on the field of play.) The surprise was for me to meet him on board the same flight to Casablanca. And a proper pleasantry was done.
Now, this is where it gets really interesting. On my second arrival at Hadam International Airport; I thought I had seen it all but I was blown to smithereens by several incidences which I have highlighted above but the Grande Finale of surprises was at the departure. It took the bus circa ten to fifteen minutes from the departure gate to where the plane was. That in itself was a journey through a luxurious fleet of Dreamliner airplanes. The expanse of the land was as far as the eyes could see. Planes (Dreamliner only) patiently waiting to be boarded. You need to see this unending tarmac beautified with beautiful big birds. Massive, huge and surprisingly, the airport is still being expanded.
A lot of people who read this, and won’t find it new or a big deal (I don’t take such things for granted). I have been blessed to have done a bit of travelling (hoping to do more) but the Hadam experience further revealed to me the need for enlightenment; the need to see what is out there. This piece is for Africans and anyone to see through my words and my pen; what is out there and what your country can become when the country’s resources are judiciously utilised. There are countries richer than Qatar but not as advanced. What I witnessed cemented and still cements my quip to anyone (I have related the experience to) that Qatar has shown that ‘poverty is a bast*rd.’ And that, it isn’t a condition; political leaders should proselytise and impose on their citizens.
Without any iota of doubt; every nation can give and do the best for her citizens and leaders should not short change their citizens in whatever area. And if such countries are doing it right, you would experience it from the airport.
Hamad is an architectural masterpiece worth visiting again and again. Like I said in one of the videos I recorded, the world does not understand what is ongoing in Qatar.
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