Hamad International Airport
Hamad International Airport (DOH IATA) is the main airport of Doha and the busiest in Qatar. It is the main hub and central transit point of state-owned carrier Qatar Airways, which makes up more than 90% of its commercial air traffic.
The airport was built to succeed the earlier Doha International Airport in April 2014, which suffered from overcapacity following the huge expansion of state-owned carrier Qatar Airways in the 2000s. It is named after the third emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who transformed the country from what was once a sleepy desert backwater into a modern marvel and one of the richest countries in the world. More than 30 million passengers pass through its transit area each year.
It consists of one big terminal building, with 5 concourses - A, B, C, D, and E - and two central plazas in the middle section to connect them. The southern plaza connects A and B to the southern end of C in a T-like fashion, and the northern plaza connects D and E to the northern end of C in a Y-like fashion. Expansions of the North Plaza are underway to add more gates and attractions, with an opening set for 2022 in time for the World Cup.
Flag carrier Qatar Airways operates its hub at the airport, with daily flights from all six continents of the globe. Doha is served by fewer additional carriers than Dubai, the home of Qatar Airways' arch-rival, Emirates. Most airlines of the Middle East, Turkey included (but not Israel), also provide connections to Doha. Relatively few Asian airlines do so, however. The exception is a relatively good choice of connections from South Asia.
While the airport and its shops are open 24 hours, its busiest times are late night to morning and early evening, when most flights land and passengers connect to other flights that leave a couple hours later.
Counters 7 to 10 on the left side of the terminal are reserved for other airlines, while counters 1 to 6 belong to Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways' first and business class passengers have their own check-in facility at counters 1 and 2, respectively. They can however only be accessed through an entrance across the rightmost door of the check in area, but you are also entitled to your own security and immigration counter. Otherwise, access to the transit area is from the only security check behind counters 5 and 6.
Most flights have their gates closed 20 minutes before departure. On flights using bus gates (C20-C28, D20-D24 and E20-24), boarding can commence as early as one hour before departure. Flights to the USA and Canada are usually served at Concourse C for additional security checks, which can easily take up at least 10 minutes depending on the amount of passengers. As there are no announcements except at the gate, it is up to you to head there on time. If your departing flight leaves in less than 45 minutes however, you can alert ground staff to speed up transfer formalities or ask a buggy ride to swiftly take you to your gate.
If you are the unlucky few who will be bussed to or from the aircraft, be sure to drink a lot of liquid beforehand as you will be exposed to the desert heat for at least a few minutes, which especially during midyear can be unforgiving.
Arriving passengers may, depending on the origin, be required to undergo security check; follow the direction appointed by the airport staff. Connecting passengers can proceed to the transit area after walking along the walkway to the nearest security check and taking an escalator downward. Those heading to passport control for entry into Qatar must go to Level 2 directly after exiting the aircraft, walk all the way to the South Plaza and take an escalator directly to the ground floor. Toilets and moving walkways can be found every couple hundred meters.
The Red Line of the Doha Metro[dead link] serves the airport at the "Hamad International Airport T1" station. Because the line to the airport is separate from the main line, some trains will go to the airport while others will go to the southern terminus of Al Wakra instead, so check the destination signage. In addition, this means that trains running northbound from Al Wakra will not stop at the airport, so a transfer is needed to an airport train at Oqba Ibn Naife or others stations to the north.
The station is a pretty long walk from the terminal building, accessible from the arrivals' hall and crossing the street pass the short-term parking building, to the right of the mosque.
A one-way trip costs QR2, or QR10 (Qatari riyal) for VIP and a day pass costs QR6 (QR30 for VIP). You pay by tapping your card when you enter and exit the system. You don’t have to do anything special to get the day pass; after you pay for 3 rides the system will not charge you for the rest of the day.
Be aware that the Metro operates only from Saturday to Wednesday from 06:00 – 23:00, Thursday from 06:00 – 23:59, and Friday from 14:00 – 23:59. If you arrive at midnight or Friday morning, your transportation options out of the airport is limited to taxis, rental cars, or have someone pick you up.
The airport is well connected by public buses run by Mowasalat. All public buses stop at the bus pavilion on the west side of the terminal building.
- Route 109 operates between Al-Ghanim Bus Station, the airport, Al-Wakrah, and Mesaieed.
- Route 727 operates to/from Al-Khor via Lulu Hypermarket at D Ring Road and Landmark Mall at the Doha Expressway
- Route 737 runs southbound to Karwa City Bus Station via The Religious Complex and Barwa City
- Route 747 runs between to/from Al Ghanim bus station in downtown Doha along Al-Matar Street
- Route 757 connects to Al-Matar Street and Al-Hilal district
- Route 777 terminates at The Pearl with stops along Corniche Street (Doha waterfront) and West Bay
A bus ride costs from QR2 to QR7, depending on the distance. It can however only be paid with a Karwa Smartcard, available from the Mowasalat Information Desk near Baggage Claim Belt 5 & 6. There are three options to choose from:
- QR10 Card: two inner-city trips within a 24-hour period
- QR20 Card: unlimited trips across Qatar within a 24-hour period
- Regular Karwa Smartcard QR30: QR10 for the card with QR20 value, available to be topped up for future journeys.
Services may run less often on Fridays and Saturdays, which are the weekend by the Muslim calendar.
- 1 Hamad Airport Bus Pavilion. All buses to and from the airport arrive/depart from this station.
Taxis can be hailed at the airport on the east side of the terminal, with costs starting at QR25 flagfall and QR1.20 per kilometer between 5AM and 9PM or QR 1.80 per kilometer on other times. Thus, an afternoon taxi ride to Doha city center should cost at least QR40.
Hamad Airport is 10-25 minutes away from Doha, depending on which part of the city you come from. From both the Doha and Ras Abba Aboud Expressway, take the F Ring Road exit, which ends at the airport.
Parking at the long term lot costs QR75 per 24 hours. It is however quite a distance from the terminal building and as such, it requires an additional ride with a courtesy shuttle to get there. Meanwhile, the short term lot costs QR8 per hour up to the fifth hour, then QR5 up to the twenty-fourth hour. Passengers traveling with Qatar Airways are recommended to park in the east building, as the west building is adjacent to the check-in counter of other airlines.
By rental car
Rental cars from local and major worldwide companies also have an office at a dedicated building across the road from arrivals, between the parking buildings. Pickup and drop-off of the vehicles however require a shuttle ride to a dedicated parking facility next to the long-term parking. Limos with chauffeurs can also be reserved from Mowasalat.
Concourses A and B are accessible from the south plaza of the terminal with the yellow teddy bear. A monorail can take you in less than two minutes to the north side of the terminal, where Concourse D and E are located. Its track spans along Concourse C, with an additional stop at its north end. These are however accessible only for departing passengers.
Connecting passengers can proceed to the transit area after walking along the walkway to the nearest security check and taking an escalator downward. Those heading to passport control for entry into Qatar must walk all the way to the South Plaza and take an escalator directly to the ground floor.
Flights that depart from gates starting at number 20 will need to head downstairs to be picked up by bus to the airplane. For Concourse C, they are accessible from an escalator adjacent to gate C10; for Concourses D and E, they are accessible from an escalator at the north plaza.
A couple art masterpieces by local and international artists peppered throughout the airport add colors to an otherwise plain and metallic terminal building. Some of them were already on display somewhere else in the world, but had been purchased directly or in an auction by the Qatari royal family or the government, and as such be put on display for public.
- The Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer is indisputably an icon of the terminal building. It cannot be missed by passengers entering and exiting the airside area, and by transiting passengers shopping within the South Plaza.
- At the North Plaza, another giant structure called Small Lies by American artist Kaws can be seen.
- One of Algerian artist Adel Abdelsammed's Mappemonde , a circular world map made from old tin cans, is on display at Concourse A. The cans for this piece are collected from the streets and markets of Dakar, Senegal.
- The playground in Concourse C with slides and play pens is an art piece called Other Worlds by American artist Tom Otterness, an artist renowned for public installations.
- At the east end of the check-in area stands a human with wings on a pillar. The Flying Man by Iraqi artist Dia al-Azzawi is inspired by Abbas Ibn-Firnas, an Andalusian polymath from the Islamic world who was an early pioneer in experimenting with flight.
- A centerpiece at the Terminal's north plaza is Cosmos , a yellow glass sculpture created by contemporary French sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel.
In contrast to other airports around the globe, most of the lounges also offer paid access for economy class passengers, albeit with a hefty price and limited options if you do not travel with Qatar Airways, who owns all but three of the lounges. Those who wish to unwind comfortably and not stuck in boredom during a long transit, however, may find paying for a lounge visit worth it.
- Oryx Lounge. A common lounge also used for other airlines. Features sofas, moderate buffet selections, family & game room, and a shower room each for male and female. QR200 for 6 hour-access, free for business class passengers.
- 1 Al Mourjan Business Lounge (Level 3 of South Plaza. Access using escalators or lifts behind the Harrods Tea Room). 24/7. Considered one of the most impressive business class lounges in the world, it is split over 2 levels on 10,000 m². Complete facilities such as quite area, showers, unlimited buffet. QR350 for economy, free for Qatar business class passengers (except Business Class Lite fare which pays like economy class.).
- Al Safwa Lounge (Level 3 of South Plaza. Access using escalators or lifts across GMT Watches). An exclusive lounge for Qatar Airways First Class passengers. Humongous for otherwise only a miniscule number of passengers and features a dedicated spa, duty free shop, restaurant, cinema, showers, family rooms, and even a Formula 1 driving simulator in its game area.
- First Class Lounge. Lounge for First Class ticketed passengers and for some QR Privilege Club and oneworld alliance members.
- Business Class Lounge. Lounge for First or Business class ticketed passengers and for some QR Privilege Club and Oneworld alliance members.
- First and Business Class Arrivals Lounges.
- Unaccompanied Minors Lounge (Concourse B). This lounge is specifically for unattended minors. As only the minors and authorized adults can enter, it is very safe. It has lots of entertainment, with video games and movies.
- Special Assistance Travellers’ Lounge.
- Mariners' Lounge (Level 2 South Plaza (former al-Maha Services Lounge)). Seafarers and offshore workers travelling on Qatar Airways can, with valid documentation, be pampered at a dedicated facility with free food and showers. A treat before or after a months-long journey in the open ocean.
- 1 Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre (4th floor above Oryx Airport Hotel; access via the elevator near the Lamp Bear exhibit), ☏ +974 4010 8204, [email protected]. 24/7. Entrance fee includes access to pool, gym, hydrotherapy tubs and shower rooms. Massages, squash and a golf simulator are available at a nominal fee. Worth a consideration for passengers with a long transit stop. Might be nicer to relax/sleep in a reclining chair at the pool. 8 hours maximum stay at pool. From QR175.
- Be Relax (Concourse A: Between Coach & Diesel). Massage & spa, manicure and pedicure. Also has showers.
Passengers with at least eight hours of transit time can explore a little bit of the country by signing up for a city tour at the Discover Qatar counter in Concourse A. Tours depart six times daily and range from city tour (QR95), desert safari, to a chauffeur tour of dunes and inland sea (QR734 for up to 5 passengers).
Eat and drink
All of the shops are essentially open 24 hours.
- Eat Street (left passage of South Plaza, adjacent to Concourse C). A dedicated food court containing fast food like burgers, frozen yoghurt, and coffee, or something more filling like Italian, Middle East, Far East, and Indian cuisines. QR30-90.
- Harrods Tea Room (South Plaza, to the left of the bear statue). Relive the British High Tea tradition with curated desserts to accompany your warm drink, or treat yourself to something more substantial such as an all-day breakfast, salads, and British comfort food. Afternoon Tea set QR80-120. Breakfast and lunch QR50-200.
- Jamocha Cafe (near gates A7, B5, playground near gate C8). Coffee and fresh bakes for those who need their dose of caffeine.
- Le Grand Comptoir (right passage of South Plaza, adjacent to Concourse C). One of the fine dining establishments at the airport. A classy French brasserie featuring grills & steaks, pastas & pizzas, or sandwiches and salads for a lighter meal. Top them off with a glass of cocktail, beer, or wine. Mains QR40-100.
- Qatah Cafe (South Plaza, adjacent to Concourse C). Fine dining establishment featuring Middle Eastern cuisine and snacks. Some of the seats are intricately designed to resemble tents. Come here for a taste and scent of Arabic coffee served authentically in a metal coffee pot. Coffee from QR 19. Pastries from QR 25.
- 1 Red (on lower ground floor at North Plaza), ☏ +966 57 115 9465. 24/7. Decent western dishes (burgers, pasta) and a bar. Burgers QR65-90, grill QR30-130, sides QR30-60, Beverages QR 20-40.
- Soprafino (right passage of South Plaza, adjacent to Concourse C). An Italian fine dining establishment. From the usual such as pastas and pizzas, to perhaps one of the cheapest places at the airport for beer and coffee. QR35-75.
- Del Monte, Concourse A (opposite Gate A3, next to snooze room). Healthy delicious smoothies and vegan snacks. From QAR 20.
- L'ETO, near Gate C5. Gourmet coffee shop with floral designs. Serving wholesome cake and salads, snacks and coffee. From QAR 30.
- Evergreen Organics (between Gates C7 & C9). Grab & go vegan based snacks and sandwiches. From QAR 30.
- The Burger Federation, South Plaza Lower Level. Gourmet burgers with assorted fillings representing select American & European territories, with plenty of options of sides. From QR 50.
- Harvest Market (Check In Area). A free-flow fresh market concept with open show cooking. Burgers and Indian cuisines are the favorites. Coffee QR10-25. Snacks QR20-50.
- Farggi (Arrival Hall). Sweet treats like ice cream, milkshakes, crepes and waffles.
- Argo Tea, Arrival Hall. Tea-based signature drinks and specialty foods including sandwiches, salads, quiches, and pastries.
A few ATMs and foreign exchange counters are scattered throughout the airport, though payment in credit cards or many major currencies other than Qatari riyal are accepted virtually everywhere.
- Au Gold Boutique (South Plaza adjacent to Soprafino or near concourse A next to the escalators). One of the few airports in the world where fine jewelry is on sale at a dedicated establishment.
- Harrods (Concourse B adjacent to the escalators, or Concourse A adjacent to Harrods Tea Room). The flagship London department store has branches here, although they are small. They sell famous items from the Food Hall, bags, and their famous teddy bears.
- inPlay (adjacent to entrance to concourse A). A sports apparel and shoe store, also where to look for merchandises from Bayern Munich, or whichever team is being sponsored by Qatar Airways.
- Marmelade Market (right passage from South Plaza before Concourse C). Gourmet ingredients and delectable souvenirs from around the world, including Arabic coffee, dates, sweets, and spices. Also offers quick drink selections.
- Paris St. Germain Store (adjacent to entrance to concourse A, next to inPlay). Qatar's investment of the namesake French football club also brings some of their merchandise to the airport for sale at their official store.
- Qatar Duty Free (South Plaza & throughout the terminal). This brand covers the duty-free shops at the airport that sell a variety of goods, from liquor to cosmetics to travel accessories. Cosmetics and perfumeries are on the right of the teddy bear; while confectionaries, cigars, and alcoholic beverages are sold on the left. Some of its smaller and pop-up shops are also found at the North Plaza and along Concourse C.
- The Bumble Tree (South Plaza behind Harrods Tea Room). A toy shop for boys and girls, with a wide selection of Legos, dolls, and action figures. Even if not buying something, you cannot miss the moving dinosaurs to the left of the shop and a tree made of Lego bricks inside.
- Travel essential shops WH Smith are scattered throughout the terminal.
- Luxury brands such as Hermès, Bally, Swarovski, Bvlgari, Omega, Burberry, and Tagheuer also set up shop here.
- Saffron & Caviar International (South Plaza across Mont Blanc, to the right of escalator from Check-in Hall). A luxury boutique offering two of the most expensive ingredients in the world.
Public Wi-Fi (SSID: #HIAQatar Free Wi-Fi) is provided free of charge throughout the airport. To connect, input your Qatar Airways booking code or electronic ticket number, or your phone number to receive the password using SMS. Lounges also offer their own Internet hotspots.
At Concourse C near the playground and on Concourses A and B behind the information counters, there are iMacs with Internet connection. If you need to print something, such as your COVID-19 test result for arrival requirements, you can ask at the information counter.
At the transit area, Muslim prayer rooms can be found at every concourse and are gender separated; however they are not always adjacent to each other. At Concourse C, they are across each other, while on Level 1 of the North Plaza, the male prayer room is at Concourse D while the female is at Concourse E, however they are found next to each other in both concourses at Ground Floor. Within the public area, there is a mosque, an attraction within the airport property, behind the parking lot buildings.
Toilets can be found at least every 200 meters, all of which are also equipped with baby changing facility and disabled booths. Smoking rooms also lie adjacent to some of them.
Should you need to find your way or need something, there are information counters in front of the teddy bear at South Plaza, Concourse B, the North Plaza behind Travelex and behind the elevator at Ground Floor of the North Plaza. At every concourse, there is a Qatar Airways information desk.
Should you need snooze without a need to pay, quiet rooms can be found on each concourse and the family area, featuring rows of lounging chairs, gender separated, and open 24 hours. Quiet here, however, does not mean zero noise as they remain exposed to the adjacent gates and passing passengers, so bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper. In the unlikely event that these are full, there are some spots where you can sleep on hard floor behind the shops along the concourses, not at the plaza. The armrest at the benches are immovable, which may not be a good place to sleep. Be sure to pack a jacket as the terminal is cold due to the ever flowing air conditioning.
If you fly Qatar Airways and transit for at least 8 hours, you may be eligible for free accommodation and voucher for food in the airport.
Otherwise, if you wish to sleep straight through for a couple hours and do not mind digging into your pocket, two lodgings within the transit area are at your disposal:
- 1 Oryx Airport Hotel, South Plaza (access using the elevators near the palm trees next to Duty Free to level 3). Functions like a proper hotel, with rooms and suites for doubles or families. Also can be booked hourly. from QR1050.
- 2 Sleep n' Fly (right passage of South Plaza, on the way to the restroom). A pay-per-hour lodging. Beds range from a one-person pod to a proper hotel room for two people. From US$96 for two hours.
There are no landside properties within the airport, with the nearest at the old airport, accessible from the Metro station Umm Ghuwailina.
- 3 Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha, Al Matar Street, ☏ +974 4402 3333. A large hotel with astounding views of the Doha skyline and Hamad airport. Six restaurants and bar to satisfy your palate. From $140 per night.
- 4 Strato Hotel by Warwick, Old Airport Road, ☏ +974 4041 4444. A 4 star but small hotel. From $70 per night.
Most of Qatar's places of interest are a maximum of two hours away from the airport, most of them covered by Discover Qatar tours (see Wait). However, should you prefer to go on your own, here are some places to visit:
- Downtown Doha is a 15-minute metro or taxi ride away and has the typical hustles and bustles of a city, posh malls, and magnificent waterfront.
- For a traditional and laid-back Arabian town visit, head south to Al Wakrah, also a short metro or taxi ride away.
- Those having some adrenaline or wish for a recreation can head further to Mesaieed, the departing point for an ATV rental down the dunes or a desert safari using a 4-wheeler.