As Ramadan concludes and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr draws near, Hamad International Airport (HIA) officials have said they are preparing for one of the busiest weeks of the year, and are advising travelers to leave extra time for their journeys.
With the public sector now on holiday for 11 days, and private sector employees in Qatar expected to begin leave from July 17 or 18, many people are expected to be leaving the country on holiday.
According to HIA, the expected peak period for outbound flights runs from today, July 15 until July 20. For those returning to Qatar after the holiday, July 23 to 25 is expected to be a busy time at the airport.
As a result, those flying during Eid week have been advised to be at the airport three hours before their scheduled departure.
Check-in at the airport will close 60 minutes before departure, so passengers are also encouraged to check-in online in advance if possible.
ID cards confusion
Meanwhile, last month’s introduction of the new Qatar identity card has caused difficulties for some people trying to leave the country this summer.
From June 15, Qatar residents updating their ID card or residency permit (RP) have been issued with the new cards. RP stickers are no longer printed on passports and so the new cards have become the only official document that proves identity and residence of expat residents in Qatar.
As such, residents leaving the country must present this card alongside their passport as proof of their identity. This also applies to children who have been issued an ID card, which is also a new step.
Some travelers have been caught off-guard by the new rules.
Qatar-based fashion blogger Kellie Silva recounted on her Fash Squad social media sites how one of her three children had been stopped by an airport official from boarding an Emirates flight with the rest of the family.
They were about to go on holiday earlier this month, and did not have the child’s new ID card with them.
We've had such a horrible day.
We left home last night happy to go on Vacation as a family, for my oldest son to… http://t.co/IPywEbrM2Z
— FASHSQUAD (@FashionRocksQA) July 1, 2015
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced the launch of the new cards last month, and at the time the assistant director general of Passports and Expat Affairs, Brig. Mohamed Ahmed Al Ateeq warned that travelers would need to produce their ID as well as their passports when entering and leaving Qatar.
However, in a Facebook post about the incident, Silva said that when immigration officials issued the children’s ID cards, they had not informed them of this requirement.
Other residents have also posted stories of their problems leaving the country on some popular Facebook forums.
For a list of other traveling tips during the busy season in Qatar, and advice on parking, see here.
Are you leaving Qatar for Eid? Thoughts?