Doha Airport Expansion: Tropical Garden, Massive New Lounge, And More

Filed Under: Qatar

Doha’s Hamad International Airport opened in 2014. The airport had an initial capacity of 29 million passengers per year, though we’ve known that over time the plan was to increase capacity at the airport.

The famous Hamad Airport teddy bear

There has been some debate regarding to what extent they’ll increase capacity, especially in light of decreased demand due to the Gulf blockade with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which were among their biggest markets.

Doha Hamad International Airport Expansion Plans

Today Hamad International Airport has reveled the details of their next stage of expansion. The expansion is set to be complete in 2022, and we should expect:

  • A 10,000 square meter (~107,000 square foot) indoor tropical garden with a 268 square meter (~2,900 square foot) water feature
  • 11,720 square meters (~126,000 square feet) of additional retail and food & beverage outlets
  • A new 9,000 square meter (~97,000 square foot) Al Mourjan Lounge
  • This will increase capacity at the airport to over 60 million passengers per year

Here’s a video rendering of the terminal expansion, which looks gorgeous:

Indoor Garden Controversy

If the indoor tropical garden looks familiar, it’s probably because earlier this year Singapore Changi Airport opened the Jewel, which looks mighty similar.

So, is Doha stealing Singapore’s idea? Nope, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker is of course claiming that Singapore stole Doha’s idea!

Executive Traveller quotes Akbar Al Baker as saying the following:

“Somebody copied our design, which was already on the table six years ago. We had individuals from that country, I will not name it, who took that and did it (themselves).”

Al Baker also points out that the Jewel is a shopping mall, while this is an international airport.

Al Baker is so funny. He could be telling the truth or he may not be, it’s just hilarious because he would likely make that same claim regardless. If Qatar Airways introduces a new first class on their 777Xs that looks identical to Emirates’ new first class, he’d also claim that Emirates stole their design.

Doha Getting New Al Mourjan Lounge

Qatar Airways’ current Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge at Doha Airport is consistently crowded, and that’s a problem. While it’s an overall good lounge, the level of crowding really takes away from the enjoyment of visiting it.

Qatar Airways’ Al Mourjan Lounge Doha

They’ve also added some unprecedented access restrictions, like not giving access to those who are on upgraded tickets.

That’s why it’s exciting that as part of this expansion, we’ll see a nearly 100,000 square foot new Al Mourjan Lounge at Doha Airport. The lounge is expected to be above retail space, and will have views of the tropical garden.

While exact details are limited as of now, It will include spas, gyms, restaurants, and business centers.

They’ll keep their existing lounges, including their Al Safwa and Al Mourjan Lounges, so this is all incremental capacity. For what it’s worth, the current Al Mourjan Lounge is just over 100,000 square feet, so this will nearly double capacity.

Bottom Line

Doha’s Hamad Airport should be significantly better in a few years, between the beautiful new garden, and also the huge new Al Mourjan Lounge.

While Hamad Airport is a huge improvement over Doha’s old airport (which was basically a shed — see my review of their premium terminal from eons ago), I was surprised that even at the new airport, so many flights leave from remote stands. You’d think that wouldn’t be the case for a new airport, though it is…

What do you make of the Hamad Airport expansion plans?

  1. You should note 2022 happens to also coincide with FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as nearly everyone who attends will fly through Hamad it makes sense to increase it and showcase it to the world.

  2. Is it going to be a new Al Mourjan lounge in addition to the current one or an expansion to the current one?

  3. Qatar will NEVER be a destination, merely a transit point. Who in their right mind wants to vacation to look purely at sand? I have spent ample time there working and my happiest day was the day I left for good

  4. How much are the airport fees going to go up? People love to talk bout how great Singapore’s airport is, but don’t mention the fact that about US $30 in taxes is tacked on every ticket to pay for the airport. The passenger facility charge in the US is capped at $4.50. I would rather save some $25 than have a tropical garden with a waterfall.

  5. Yeah I don’t see a problem with the indoor garden looking vaguely similar to Changi’s. This looks like a great new terminal expansion and I’m happy for them and anyone who eventually has the pleasure of flying through it, including hopefully me as well.

  6. @grant
    I spent last week in Qatar and judging by the accents of the groups packing the prestigious museums, I’d say it’s already a tourist destination. There’s easily enough to keep most people happy for a long weekend.

    The Museum of Islamic Art is good; the new Qatar National Museum is extraordinarily good; the smaller museums are varied and interesting; and that’s before assorted desert safari options which, if you’re so minded, can also involve camels and falcons. I’d also rate the National Library, unlike anything else in the Gulf (a free symphony orchestras concert was on offer the night I was there).

    There are pretty spectacular beaches, too, where desert sand dunes meet the Gulf, including resorts that consist of vast air-conditioned but otherwise traditional lavish tents.

    The sort of crowd that goes shopping in Dubai will feel at home in the blingier bits of Doha – including Katara, built around a vast Galleries Lafayette where even the outdoor streets are air-conditioned (neither money nor energy are in short supply here). M

    FWIW, I flew home on QR1 and yesterday morning Al Mourjan was almost completely empty for the three hours I was there (as was the business class entry to the airport). I understand at other times it can get busy; but as someone else wrote, they’re gearing up for 2022.

  7. @Sam, lol you get what you pay for it seems. Don’t forget the other mindless taxes and fees collected at US airports (9/11 tax.. still??) And what do you have – the absolute bottom level of airports compared with the rest of the world, and they are unusable. 3hrs in immigration queues is unacceptable not to mention the 3rd world facilites. Thank goodness I don’t have to fly anywhere near those waste dumps anymore.

  8. Having passed through both Doha and Singapore airports in the past month, I couldn’t help but think how similar they are becoming. Singapore is still way ahead and Doha is quite crowded, but there is certainly a similarity in design and concept. Altogether, they are both excellent and very attractive options for us Aussies traveling to Europe and Asia. Also thankful that we don’t need to transit in any junk US airport – we’ll leave those for the yanks :D!

  9. I’m not sure why its taking countries/cities so long to recognize the potential non-flight related revenue streams airports can have. When people are spending hours everyday in these facilities, they’re going to be looking for ways to kill time (i.e. spend money). Jewel at SIN is a tremendous money-making opportunity from the airport’s perspective, but is also a great way to spend a layover from a passenger’s perspective. I think DOH will be the first of many copycats.

  10. @ George

    Oh, many airports long ago realised that passengers were captive, bored, and likely to include lots of wealthier people. The privatised UK airports put huge amounts of development cash into creating shopping centres which, frankly, people like me find to be absolute torture, though I recognise I’m in a freakish minority.

    So obsessed did BAA (the UK operator) become with fleecing passengers that when BA tried to introduce the First Wing at LHR T5 – when it first opened – BAA absolutely refused, insisting all 1st class customers had to walk a pointless back-and-forth rat-run so that they could be made to go past all the hyper-expensive designer outlets (more profits at the outlets meant higher rents for BAA). In the end, BA had to pay BAA to get agreement for the First Wing.

    For years, financially Heathrow has been a car park and shopping malls, with a small airport on the side.

    Luckily BAA’s monopoly has now been smashed. But all the other UK airports are following the money, too. Changi is just the most ridiculous extension – the airport “as destination in its own right”. No. That’s completely wrong. And it means the airport has lost focus on what it is meant to do – be the most efficient passenger-processing facility it is possible to be.

  11. @ Grant – agreed. I hate sand; it’s coarse and it gets everywhere.

    Also, Admiral Akbar is really full of himself.

  12. @Anakin Skywalker

    Is that why you left Tatooine?

    And be careful, Akbar is not full of it.

    It’s a trap!

  13. @the Nice Paul, thank you! I’m with you on this and probably explains why I recently enjoyed HKG airport much more than SIN and the others. So much open space there with views outside to the tarmac and surrounding areas. No need to go through the shipping mall.

  14. @As

    They don’t. But the nine extra gates for widebodies will help, as will the additional space to manage flows of passengers through the airport — particularly much more space to manage transfer passengers. And the expansion will also address the complaints that Al Mourjan is uncomfortably crowded at peak times.

  15. Qatar Airport must expand Landside also. Apron area and baggage soarting Area is very coungested. Chief you muat take. Notice on it otherwise it Hardly affect Airport operations.

  16. I reckon at DOH I get a bus gate about 60% of the time since the current terminal opened. At SIN I’ve never had a bus gate in 30 years!

    There is no comparison between the two though I would also say that neither has a really good lounge of any description when you compare the LH F lounges and particularlyt he LH F terminal at FRA or the AF F lounges at CDG.

  17. Likely to catch some flak for this statement, but I’d like to see airports broaden their shopping options to appeal more to the millennial market. I feel very out of place at Hamad amongst the Swarovski, Gucci, and Tiffany shops. Hopefully this expansion introduces more reasonably priced retail options.

  18. About time, don’t know why they didn’t build it to this capacity originally, it wasn’t unforeseeable at all… hopefully it will be enough.

  19. Hamad airport was ill conceived from the very start. Built in totally the wrong place and in totally the wrong way. The end game is obvious, a new airport will need to be built, where next time it can expand properly, 3, 4 runways etc. Building between a highway and the sea is bound to limit options. The infield is packed with little room for expansion and what space is available is already earmarked. A second terminal will go between the west side runway and the highway. Another taxiway will be built also to the west and additional parking stands, cargo expansion etc.
    That might last 20 years maximum, but then what.

    The old Doha International airport will provide overspill for the FIFA world cup but then gets handed to the military for…?

    If air traffic continues to expand, or Qatar is successful in its Olympic Games bid then ???

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