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Qatar’s Hamad International Airport to hold emergency drill today

Hamad International Airport (HIA) will conduct a planned fire drill today (Tuesday) to ensure the emergency preparedness of its staff. The move comes amid heightened security at the facility, which officials have not commented on.

HIA did not specify the timing of the drill, but said it would be conducted at its main Terminal Building. In a statement, it added: “HIA will work to minimise disruption to normal operations as much as reasonably possible while maintaining the standard of the important exercise.”

Hamad International Airport

Takahiro Hayashi / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Visitor access to Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) continues to be restricted, despite the end of the Eid Al Fitr holiday rush.

For more than a week now, security guards have been barring most non-passengers from entering HIA’s Arrivals and Departures terminals.

Those who are catching flights out of Qatar must present boarding passes, plane tickets or their names to officials before they are permitted into the airport.

But people picking up or dropping off travelers are generally not allowed into the building, which has frustrated many visitors.

However, others have lauded the additional security given the regional turmoil.

No end date

HIA has not publicly commented on the new security measure, but a police officer at the airport told Doha News today that the order came from the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

He added that he was unsure how much longer the measure would be in place.

Last year, new security measures outside Qatar’s church complex and at hotels and shopping malls stayed in effect for months.

Even after Eid was over, some venues continued to use metal detectors, while security guards at other locations checked underneath the cars of visitors before they entered underground parking lots.

At the time, Doha News was told those orders also came from the MOI. Most of the measures were eventually phased out by the end of 2015.

No need to wait outside

When asked why visitor access was being restricted at HIA this year, the officer declined to speculate.

However, he said the practice is not new – people used to have to wait outside the old airport during busy times as well.

Waiting at Hamad Airport

Reem Saad / Doha News

Waiting at Hamad Airport

Though many people going to HIA have complained about having to stand outside in the heat, there is an air-conditioned area near short-term parking where visitors can sit and wait.

However, they would not be able to see their friends and relatives come out of the terminal.

Thoughts?

Hamad Airport security

Reem Saad / Doha News

Hamad Airport security

Unless you’re flying out of Qatar this weekend, you likely will not be allowed to enter Hamad International Airport (HIA).

New security measures have been introduced over the Eid Al Fitr holidays, restricting access to both the Arrivals and Departures terminals.

HIA has not commented on the new measures and it is unclear how long they will be in place.

But over the past two days, several travelers leaving Doha and others going to pick up friends and family members reported having trouble getting into the building:

Departures

People catching a flight out of Qatar will need to present boarding passes, plane tickets or their names to security guards before they are permitted into the airport.

Once inside, there is a passport check as well.

A security guard who spoke to Doha News this morning did not say whether there was a specific reason for the increased security.

He added that his team was simply instructed to conduct the checks through the rest of the weekend because of Eid.

Another guard cited regional turmoil and the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as a reason for the heightened security measures.

Ahead of the Eid holidays, authorities did warn that undefined “measures” were being put in place at HIA for the “safety and convenience of travelers.”

Arrivals

People going to the airport to pick up friends and family who have flown into Qatar will not be allowed inside HIA.

Instead, they are being instructed to wait outside.

Waiting at Hamad Airport

Reem Saad / Doha News

Waiting at Hamad Airport

Given the heat – the high hit 45C (113F) yesterday – many found this new rule frustrating.

Speaking to Doha News, a Filipino expat named Richard said:

“We understand there are security measures, but this is a hassle for everyone. When you think about security measures, you have to think about the people that are going to be affected.

We had no idea this is going on and why it’s going on, they never announced it. This is Hamad, we expect better.”

Meanwhile, a British expat who came to pick up his family said he was rudely turned away without explanation this morning.

The man, who declined to give his name, added that he was angry because his wife and kids are arriving and their phones are off so they won’t understand what’s going on.

Have you been affected by the new measures? Thoughts?