Browsing 'HIA' News

Qatar’s airport has a new theme song, and the country’s national carrier has just released a beautifully-shot video of it.

The anthem, called The Beginning, is the result of a collaboration between local singer-songwriter Dana Alfardan and the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO).

The four-minute video starts with a solo pianist playing in the middle of the desert.

HIA theme song

Video still

HIA theme song

It then pans to the outside of Hamad International Airport (HIA), before moving inside to feature the QPO.

Musicians are set up in front of the iconic Lamp Bear, playing on escalators and moving walkways.

Some are even shown performing on the airport’s people mover, which is operational but has yet to open to travelers.

The video is set to be shown onboard Qatar Airways flights as part of its entertainment.

It was first screened in Doha at a private event in June.

London debut

The score took around a month to write and more than 70 musicians played in the theme.

The film features some of the art works at the airport which are an important aspect of Qatar’s cultural development, Alfardan told Doha News.

In a statement, Alfardan said she was “beyond privileged and honored” for the song to be used by HIA, which “is a symbolic location both within Qatar and the region.”

This is not the first collaboration between the 31-year-old and the QPO.

Two years ago, the orchestra performed a collection of her songs in a show titled Layla, named after her daughter.

Promotional poster for Guy Manoukian and Dana Alfardan concert in London

Guy Manoukian/Twitter

Promotional poster for Guy Manoukian and Dana Alfardan concert in London

Earlier this summer, the composer held her first London concert.

There, songs from her latest album Sandstorm were performed by members of the UK-based Orion Orchestra at Cadogan Hall, alongside  Lebanese-American composer and pianist Guy Manoukian.

Alfardan, who is also the CEO and founder of the indie music label DNA, has also been collaborating with Manoukian for a new album that is set to be released later this year.

Thoughts?

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

Doha’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been dubbed the “coolest” in the world, according to a list drawn up for the Huffington Post.

The ranking, produced by deals website Travelzoo, lists seven airports around the world that it says help make global travel more pleasurable.

Explaining why it ranked HIA so highly, Travelzoo stated that the airport “screams luxury.”

The post mentions that the HIA boasts its own swimming pool and free quiet rooms for passengers to rest in.

However, it reserved its biggest praise for the airport’s imposing art installations:

“Did I mention they also have a giant dinosaur robot and a 23-foot-tall Urs Fischer sculpture of a yellow teddy bear? Sounds like the perfect opportunity for a brag-worthy Instagram pic. Hashtag, love Qatar.”

In a statement responding to the list, Badr Mohammed Al Meer, HIA’s chief operating officer, said that honor “mirrored” the airport’s ambition to position itself as “a major player.”

HIA also got favorable marks from Skytrax in March, joining its list of top 10 best airports in the world.

That same month, HIA was also ranked among the best airports in the Middle East by the Airport Service Quality Awards (ASQ), which are based on passenger surveys.

The other six

Airports on four different continents are listed in the “cool” index.

Singapore’s Changi placed second, apparently due to its retail options and “butterfly garden,” while Hong Kong International, which has its own Aviation Discovery Center, is at three.

The Butterfly Garden at Singapore's Changi Airport

Simon Wright / Flickr

The Butterfly Garden at Singapore’s Changi Airport

Finland’s Helsinki airport is number four, and one of Hamad International’s neighbors, Dubai International, also made the list, at fifth.

Spain’s Madrid-Barajas and New Zealand’s Wellington airport take the two final spots.

Expansion plans

Although the airport won praise for its facilities, passengers traveling through HIA at busy times might beg to differ.

The airport is already exceeding its planned annual capacity, leading to lengthy queues during peak travel periods.

@RoryWSJ / Twitter

@RoryWSJ / Twitter

@RoryWSJ / Twitter

However, plans to expand HIA are already afoot.

When building work is completed by 2020, the size of the passenger terminal will increase to more than 1 million square meters, the number of contact gates will nearly double to 61 and capacity should reach some 53 million passengers a year.

Earlier this month, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said building work on the project should begin by the end of this year.

Do you think HIA is “cool?” Thoughts?

Travelers who will be passing through Qatar’s Hamad International Airport for the first time can now take a virtual walk through the terminal ahead of their journey.

The Doha airport has become the first in the MENA region to join Google’s Street View, which gives a 360-degree online tour of four floors of the 600,000-square-meter facility.

Announced yesterday, HIA joins Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art and other landmarks in the region, including the Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, that allow virtual visitors to go on a panoramic tour without leaving their screens.

The airport can be explored using thousands of specially stitched-together images that were taken last summer using a backpack-mounted camera.

Find your way

It could be useful for those planning a journey through the airport for the first time to familiarize themselves with the layout, find particular shops or eateries and work out where amenities such as ATMs are located.

It may also help passengers at the airport more easily navigate their way through the facility.

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

The HIA link includes footage of the main concourse with the landmark Lamp Bear, shops and children’s play areas, as well as some of the corridors leading to boarding gates and a sneak-peek into some of the lounges.

It also takes travelers though an almost-empty immigration hall in arrivals.

HIA joins more than a dozen other airports around the world that have also joined up to Street View, including the UK’s Gatwick Airport, Osaka International Airport in Japan and the Aeropuerto Madrid Barajas.

In a statement issued by QNA yesterday announcing the launch, Ulf Spitzer, global lead for Google Street View, said the aim of the project was to include “amazing places around the world” for visitors to explore.

“From Urs Fischer’s teddy lamp bear sculpture to the Dreamliners that line the runway, millions around the world will now be able to inspect the Hamad International Airport, which they may be travelling to or through soon,” he added.

Last summer, Qatar’s then-Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning said it had signed an MOU with Google to bring Street View to the state.

At the time, no launch date for this was given. However, it said that Google would need to work with the ministry’s Center for GIS to obtain permission from authorities to survey the streets before producing the panoramic images.

You can access Street View of the airport here.

Would you use it? Thoughts?