Qatar Travel Guide
If you want to get a sense of how much the Middle East has become a key gateway for international air travel (and feel incredibly small in the process), a visit to Doha’s vast Hamad International Airport (DOH) will do the trick.
We transferred here during some recent travels, only weeks after the much-delayed airport opened its doors, and were suitably impressed by the soaring roofs and seemingly endless gates surrounded by an abundance of space, though not everything was quite as it should be.
If you ever had the pleasure of visiting the old Doha Airport, you'd have experienced the delight of being bussed from terminal to plane in desert heat. Yeah, not fun. The new Hamad and its 50-million-passenger per year capacity should have eliminated that; alas, imagine our disappointment on our first visit to Hamad when, after taking the escalator down to our gate, we descended into absolute chaos with hundreds of passengers camped out on every inch of floor space in front of several bus gates.
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Qatar Airways has 9 Dreamliners operating a number of routes out of its brand-spanking new (and humongous) Hamad International Airport in Doha, and an additional 51 on order from Boeing. We recently did a business class return between Stockholm and Doha, which gave us enough time to explore its swanky interiors.
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There’s a few spots where flying back home is pretty darn easy, as outposts of US customs and border control are set up at foreign airports. This has been the deal up in Canada for quite some time, and there are a few other locations as well. Basically you go through all the welcome to the USA paperwork overseas, and then when you land safe and sound in the nifty fifty you’re free to just grab you bag and head into a taxi.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened up a spot like this over in Abu Dhabi earlier in the year, and it sounds like Dubai is getting in on the fun as well. However, we’re thinking officials over in Qatar are jealous over all of this, and now they want their very own chance to throw their very own version of a passport party.
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Getting to the Middle East might seem like a fuss with only a few handfuls of non-stop flights from the U.S. and plenty of hours in a plane, so a welcome addition is Qatar Airways' launch of all-business-class flights from Doha, Qatar to London-Heathrow. This marks the first time for such a service between the two regions.
In all, flights from Qatar to the UK take just about 7 hours. So, for that amount of time, passengers will be able to eat, sleep, and catch up on work with the in-flight SMS and GPRS technology. The Airbus A319 will seat a mere 40 passengers in a 2-2 configuration of lie-flat seats, so the sense of a small domestic flight will be as pervasive as the free-flowing bubbles.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted at: The Museum of Islamic Art park in Doha, Qatar.
Of the kitty, he notes:
[The photo] is at the Islamic museum park, I was...out there with my wife and friends then I found this cat starring at the towers. The funny thing that my wife made fun of me for taking picture of a cat [sic].
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An instagram we recently posted with Qatar announced their Oneworld membership
Question or two for you. Have you traveled anywhere recently? Do you Instagram? If you answered yes to both (we hope you did), then you're already half-way to winning roundtrip flight on Qatar Airways.
In what is surely one of the easiest, most open Instagram contests yet, the Qatar Museums Authority is celebrating their "Art of Travel: Bartholomäus Schachman (1559-1614)" exhibition of watercolors from explorer Schachman's travels in the Ottoman Empire. What the Museums Authority wants to see from you is not a watercolor, however, but one great Instagram.
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L to R: Horton, Al Baker, Walsh, Ashby
Earlier today, in a small event room in the middle of Midtown Manhattan, four men sat down in front of four microphones. TheyTom Horton (CEO American Airlines), Akbar Al Baker (CEO Qatar Airways), Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG, parent company of British Airways and Iberia) and Bruce Ashby (CEO Oneworld Alliance)represented their respective airlines but also sat there as heads of companies responsible for billions of dollars in the travel sector and millions of flyers in the air. And they'd come together to get even closer to one another, by inviting Qatar Airways to join the Oneworld Alliance.
Guess what? Qatar Airways accepted the invitation.
From here it'll take another 12-18 months until Qatar completes integration into Oneworld, but now's the time to start smirking at the potential benefits. Yeah, you're probably like, "why should I care?" Well, just think that next time you book a long-haul flight with American Airlines and it has a stopover in Doha, you could actually be walking onto a Qatar Airways plane (ooo maybe even a 787!) with Qatari crew and Qatar's 5-star service and then you'll be googling to see when all this happened while being very glad it did.
Mathaf—pronounced "Mat-haff," which is "museum" in Arabic—will showcase more than 6,000 works of modern Arab art from the 1840s to the present.
There is at least one airline listening to passenger's calls for better meal service and an attention to eco-responsibility. Qatar Airways has just announced a complete revampment of their in-flight food service for flights to and from England, and surprisingly the focus is on quality in economy class.
Instead of sad, beige plastic trays with the airline logo, Qatar Airways will be rolling out clear, 99% recyclable lightweight trays and serving sets which will be set onto a placemat in a color of your choosing.
How's this for your ultimate airport lounge? It's the first class lounge belonging to Qatar Airways at their main hub in Doha and it looks decadent enough for us to think that Qatar Airways might be charging too much for their plane tickets.
Flickr fanatic Stuck in Customs went to a fair bit of trouble to bring us this great travel snapshot:
I was warned many times by grisly-looking security guards not to take any photos of any people in the lounge, especially if they were wearing the national uniform.
And all that on a three-day marathon to fly from snow-bound Atlanta to sticky Kuala Lumpur (and no, Doha is not exactly the most common route for this trip).
The photographer is cool enough to admit he didn't know where Doha was when they sold him a flight there--and we admit we don't know much more about it than a vague spot on the globe and a planned museum that's hidden in a sand dune. In fact, we figure that outside this fancy airport lounge, Doha is just dunes. Right?
· Architecture Travel: Hidden Museum in the Desert, Doha [Jaunted]
· Doha Travel Guide [Jaunted]
[Photo: Stuck in Customs]
A giant sand dune is going to be home to the new Museum of Modern Arab Art in Doha, Qatar. From a distance, it just looks like another pile of sand, like thousands of others in the desert. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the dune isn't quite what it seems.
Architect Rafael Viñoly designed the museum to blend seamlessly with its environment. In a possible reference to historic Bedouin tents, Viñoly has used a sand-colored stretched canvas-like material to cover the 350,000 square foot space.
This camouflaged building will house Sheikh Hassan Bin Mohammed Al-Thani's large collection of Arab art dating from the early Qur'anic period to modern times. And, you'll find plenty of other treasures to explore at the MOMAA. The collection includes 5,000 paintings, 700 antiques, sculptures, metalwork, ceramics, a calligraphy section, photography and more. The museum is scheduled to be finished by 2011.
· Enormous Artificial Sand Dune To House Museum of Modern Arab Art [Gizmodo]
· Rafael Viñoly Architects [Official Site]
· Architecture Travel coverage [Jaunted]