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Frankieleon / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Updated with Qatar Airways statement

Passengers flying non-stop to the US from Doha are now prohibited from using iPads, Kindles and most other electronic items during their journeys.

The US Department of Homeland Security has announced a ban on such items in the cabin of aircraft coming from 10 cities, including Doha.

Officials said the move was in response to concerns about terrorist attacks.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Hamad Airport security

In a statement released today, DHS cited intelligence suggesting that terrorist groups “continued to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”

The agency added that the ban would only affect a “small percentage of flights” to the US and that no flight departing from the states would be affected.

The ban is effective immediately, though airlines have 96 hours to comply with the requirements.

Electronic items larger than a cell phone will not be accepted on board flights, including laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units larger than a smartphone and travel printers/scanners.

Passengers would instead have to store such devices in their checked luggage. Medical equipment is exempted.

The ban is in place indefinitely.

Direct flights to the USA

The 10 affected cities are all from the Middle East.

They are Doha, Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


The Boeing 777

It will affect flights on nine different airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad and Saudi Arabia.

Royal Jordanian actually tweeted passengers about the ban yesterday, but then deleted the post, saying a further update was coming soon.

Qatar Airways, which flies directly from Doha to 10 US cities, has issued a travel alert to passengers about the ban.

In a statement on its website, it said that it had made “special arrangements” to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircraft’s baggage hold.

It did not elaborate on what these arrangements are.

How it will affect passengers

But the ban means all Qatar Airways passengers flying to the US – whether they are beginning their journey in Doha or starting it elsewhere and switching planes at Hamad International – will have to place larger electronic items in their checked-in baggage.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This includes iPads, laptops, gaming devices and cameras.

The move is likely to cause considerable confusion for passengers boarding Qatar Airways flights in other countries, and frustration for customers who had hoped to use their devices to work or for entertainment during their flights.

Passengers flying from Doha to the US via airports not affected by the ban, such as London, Amsterdam or Frankfurt, will still be able to keep their electronics with them onboard.

It is still unclear whether flight crew from the region – who use company-provided iPads as part of their jobs – will be allowed to bring them into the US.

Theft fears

Many passengers flying on Qatar Airways and other regional carriers are likely to be reluctant to place valuable electronic items in the hold, due to fears about damage or theft.

Some have expressed these concerns on Twitter:

And others have pointed out that the new ban seems to unfairly target major aviation hubs in the Muslim world:

Would the ban affect you? Thoughts?

Doha Festival City

The entrance to the mall

With reporting from Amanda Ramirez

With just weeks to go before its April 5 soft opening, the massive Doha Festival City (DFC) opened its doors to journalists yesterday for a sneak peek.

While there, officials also revealed further details about some of the QR6 billion mall’s upcoming theme parks.

Located off of Al Shamal Road next to IKEA, DFC has seen months of delays. It will eventually host over 500 stores, including some 100 food and beverage outlets.

Amanda Ramirez

Doha Festival City pre-opening tour

But not all of them will be opening soon. Here’s what you need to know about Qatar’s newest shopping destination:

Hello Five Guys

According to the Gulf Times, DFC general manager Trevor Hill said nearly 50 percent of the mall’s retail outlets and most of its food and beverage offerings will open next month.

That includes Qatar’s first Five Guys, a popular American hotdog and hamburger chain that already has outlets in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Five Guys / Facebook

Typical Five Guys fare

Many of the other food outlets at the mall were still covered with generic hoardings yesterday.

But according to DFC’s website, they will include Dean and Deluca, the Hummingbird Bakery and PF Chang’s.

Doha Festival City pre-opening tour

Shops-wise, Marks and Spencer, H&M, Home Center, Mac, Sephora, Carter’s, The Body Shop and Pottery Barn all appear to be almost ready to open.

The mall will also be the site of the world’s largest Monoprix, featuring a “Cave à Fromage” – which is sure to be a hit with cheese lovers.

And also coming soon is Qatar’s first Harvey Nichols, the London-based luxury department store.

Additionally, an Ace Hardware outlet remains under construction.

Angry Birds fun

DFC has several theme parks opening this year, but visitors will need to wait a few more months to check them out.

For example, officials said they are aiming for a summer launch for the Angry Birds adventure park.

Nathan Rupert/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

It is the first of its kind in the Gulf, and attractions will include the largest trampoline park in Qatar.

A largest indoor and outdoor go-karting track in the region, a drop tower, reverse bungee slingshot and water rapids are also planned, officials said.

Snow adventures

Also expected to open this summer is Qatar’s first ski slope.

Doha Festival City website

An artist’s impression of the Snow Dunes attraction

Snow Dunes – billed as an “Arabian-themed snow park” – will feature over 4,800 sq meters of real snow in a -4C environment all year round.

The attraction will also boast a “snow castle” as well as slides, slopes and sleds, officials said.

Virtual fun

One more main feature of DFC that’s opening this summer is “Virtuocity,” which is a gaming space specifically for older teens (15+) and adults.

Doha Festival City website

How Virtuocity should look when it opens in the summer

The venue will include a 200-seat viewing and competing hub equipped with the latest PC, PlayStation and Xbox One hardware.

Virtuocity will also have five VIP lounges where up to 10 people will be able to complete simultaneously on the advanced Racer simulators.

Additionally, there will be four themed escape rooms where participants  will have just 60 minutes to break out using problem-solving skills.

Get those steps in

During the country’s hottest months, the mall might be a good destination for exercise as well as shopping.

Amanda Ramirez

Doha Festival City pre-opening tour

It’s 1km long inside, and there’s also a 3km “Outdoor Leisure Trail” surrounding the mall for runners and cyclists.

The mountain bike track, designed by British company Architrail, offers various surfaces with inbuilt gradients and obstacles to suit all abilities of mountain bikers.

And the running track has exercise machines installed along the route.

Doha Festival City

The Outdoor Leisure Trail

Parking-wise, there will be 8,000 spaces across four floors, with 29 different entry points into the mall.

And it should be fairly straightforward to get to the mall from Doha, thanks to the recent opening of the Al Kharaitiyat Interchange on Al Shamal Road.

The complex is expected to be fully open by September, officials pledged.

Do you plan to check it out? Thoughts?

Ezdan Holding

Ezdan Oasis rendering

A 1 million square meter “mini city” south of Doha is now accepting tenants, real estate developer Ezdan Holding has announced.

The QR4.5 billion project, dubbed Ezdan Oasis, consists of four phases that when completed, will include more than 9,300 residential units.

The brand-new town will also have two schools, an office building, hypermarket, sports clubs, mosques and hundreds of shops.

Ezdan Holding

Ezdan Oasis

Last year, Ezdan officials said the entire development would be completed by the end of 2017.

First phase

So far, Ezdan is in the process of rolling out the first phase of the development, according to officials who provided an update during Cityscape Qatar this week.

This includes 1,820 residential units, in the form of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom fully furnished apartments.

Officials previously estimated that the flats would cost between QR5,000 and QR8,000 a month.

Ezdan Holding

Ezdan Oasis

Some 180 commercial outlets such as restaurants, cafes and “vital facilities” like swimming pools, security services and maintenance are also coming online, the company said.

Additionally, the schools and four sports clubs are expected to open soon.

In a statement, CEO Ali Mohammed Al-Obaidli cited the development’s location, near Al Wakrah General Hospital, Barwa City and two malls, as one of its biggest strengths.

He added that the aim of the project is “to become an all-inclusive mini-city” in a fast-growing area.

Expanding town

Indeed, more of Qatar’s population has been moving outside of Doha in recent years.

And according to 2015 government figures, the Al Wakrah district has grown much faster than the overall population.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Souq Wakrah

The town has its own hospital, souq, farmer’s market and mall, and is now home to some 300,000 people.

Would you consider moving to the area? Thoughts?