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The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

Qatar Museums

The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

Qatar’s airport has added two new sculptures to its public art collection that “celebrate traveling in the modern age.”

The Flying Man works by Iraqi artist Dia al-Azzawi have been set up in both the arrival and departure terminals of Hamad International.

In a statement, Qatar Museums said the art sits on “two tall cylinder sculptures inspired by the pillars that appeared in Mesopotamia, an ancient region, in the third century B.C.”

The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

Qatar Museums

The Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi

They were unveiled a few months after the launch of the artist’s retrospective exhibitions at the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf) and the Al Riwaq gallery off of the Corniche.

‘I am the cry’

The retrospective, titled I am the cry, who will give voice to me? will run for five months until April 17, 2017.

It includes paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints that chart the 50-year career of the modernist artist. Some of the items are being put on public display for the first time.

Al-Azzawi also has a carousel installation, Enchanted East, that launched at the MIA Park this summer.

MIA Park Carousel

Qatar Museums

The merry-go-round at the MIA Park

Also a functioning children’s ride, it features 40 designed animal “seats” that are inspired by the Museum of Islamic Art’s permanent collection.

Thoughts?

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

A new visa scheme for travelers transiting through Hamad International Airport (HIA) goes online today (Nov. 1), Qatar Airways and the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) have announced.

The free 96-hour transit visa is available to all Qatar Airways passengers with layovers of five or more hours at HIA, regardless of nationality.

However, visas are granted based on the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior, and must be applied for at least seven days in advance, Qatar Airways said in a statement yesterday.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Brian Candy/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The visa scheme was first announced in late September as a way to woo more tourists to Qatar.

But it took some time to implement, in part because Qatar Airways needed to restructure its fares so that stopovers in Doha don’t cost extra.

The new offering comes on the same day that HIA launched its people mover system.

The trains are expected to help arriving, departing and transiting passengers navigate the airport more swiftly.

How it works

Passengers can apply for their free transit visas through any Qatar Airways offices, or online here.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Having a ticket that shows an onward journey out of Qatar on a flight operated by the national carrier;
  • Holding a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time of arrival in Qatar; and
  • Sharing a valid email to facilitate the visa process.

The visa should be applied for between seven and 90 days before arriving in Qatar, excluding public holidays.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Jiseon Shin/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Once approved, the transit visa will be valid for 90 days from the date of issuance, for a single entry into Qatar.

Passengers must hold a copy of the pre-approved transit visa at the time of boarding at their airport of origin, as well as when arriving in Doha.

Notably, passengers traveling from Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Sudan, and the UAE can only stopover with the free visa while on their outward journey, not on the return.

Tourism push

The new transit visa comes at a time when tourism is flagging in Qatar, despite a push to grow the sector.

According to real estate firm DTZ, a 3 percent dip in visitor numbers this year has hurt the hospitality sector, contributing to falling occupancy and revenues.

In a statement yesterday, Hassan Al Ibrahim, QTA’s chief tourism development officer, said:

“Visa facilitation is an important factor in increasing the attractiveness of a destination, and we encourage investors and tourism business owners to capitalize on the opportunities presented by this development to diversify Qatar’s tourism products and services.”

Thoughts?

Monorail at Hamad International Airport

Lesley Walker / Doha News

The new train at Hamad International Airport

Updated with a statement from Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport’s long-awaited people mover will start picking up passengers at midnight tonight, an airport spokesperson has told Doha News.

The 500m-long train line has remained closed to passengers since the airport opened in 2014.

But it has been seen running regularly (though empty of people) for more than a year, presumably for testing purposes.

Hamad International Airport said in a statement that the system was beginning operations following the granting of an Operational Safety Certificate from the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

A plan showing the train's route

Doppelmayr

A plan showing the train\’s route

The line has two stations that will be available for departing, arriving and transfer passengers, the HIA spokesperson said.

The trains will run from near Urs Fischer’s Lamp/Bear (the giant yellow teddy bear) in departures through to the D and E concourses, reducing transfer times through the terminal.

Delayed opening

Each trip between the two stations takes 90 seconds, with a 44 second waiting time at each station, airport officials said. Approximate walking time for the same distance is 9 minutes.

According to Austrian company Doppelmayr, which built the system, the two trains can run at a speed of 45 km/h. The cable-propelled system is designed to be completely silent.

The carriages have a glass roof for a “pleasantly open environment,” the company added.

According to Doppelmayr, the monorail had been due to enter service in the Spring 2015.

An airport spokesperson declined to comment on why the line’s opening had been delayed.

Thoughts?