With having served some 175 million customers in five years since it opened, Hamad International Airport, Qatar’s only international airport, is a busy one. But rather than crowds, what most people will take away from going through this major hub between east and west is the superb public art on display and the luxury of all the facilities.
Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
Know Before You Go
The airport has only one terminal with arrivals, departures, and transit areas.
Access to local currency: There are several ATMs taking foreign cards, and two foreign exchange kiosks in the Arrivals Hall. If you are planning on taking a taxi or the bus, or any not-prepaid transport, you will need local cash. The Qatari riyal is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate of $1 to QAR 3.64.
Public Transportation and Taxis
There are numerous options of getting from the airport to your hotel. A hotel shuttle or pick-up service are usually the easiest, and many of the bigger hotels offer that, so check on that when booking your room.
Karwa taxis are clearly sign-posted, and the taxi stand is to the left as you leave the arrivals area. All taxis are metered and charge a call fee of QAR 25 from the airport; after that they charge between QAR 1.20 and QAR 1.80 per kilometer. As a rough estimation, a ride from the airport to a hotel in West Bay will cost QAR 40. Make sure you carry the local currency.
If you prefer to be picked up by a private driver in a luxury sedan, you can hire a limousine on the Karwa app, which also calls you a taxi from anywhere in the city. Uber cars are available in Doha via the Uber app.
There are six public buses stopping at the airport with routes across Doha and outside. To find the route best for your hotel, please consult the route maps.
Please note that you cannot buy tickets on the bus, but need to have a Karwa Smartcard, which you can get from machines in the arrivals hall. The machines only take the local currency in cash, and you have several options of cards, depending on how long you're staying and how often you'll take public transportation.
The Doha Metro Red line will be operating a service from the airport into the city center, but is not yet operational. See the public transportation guide for more details.
If you are planning to rent a car, all the major car rental companies have offices in the arrivals hall. For driving guidelines in Doha, please see the guide to driving in Doha.
Al Maha Service
Al Maha is a meet-and-greet service that can be very handy if you are a timid traveler, exhausted from a long flight, or simply want to sit back in a comfortable lounge while someone sorts out the immigration process for you, whisks you through the airport, and carries your luggage. Equally upon departure, they can help you check-in, go through passport control, gain access to a dedicated lounge, and take advantage of priority boarding. You can pre-book the service online.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are about 20 food outlets throughout the terminal, ranging from Arabian cuisine to American fast food and coffee, to international restaurants offering varied cuisine. As in all airports, emphasis is on fast service and non-fussy food unless you are in the lounges where you can opt for fine dining and leisurely service.
Where to Shop
If you are after some good quality souvenirs, go to Bazaar, located in both South Plaza and North Plaza. You will find traditional handicrafts, fluffy camels, ceramics, metal décor items, traditional clothing, scarves, falconry gear, and a selection of dates and local sweets.
The Duty Free section offers a selection of goodies such as perfumes, cosmetics, alcohol, and cigarettes and also a superb offering of luxury designer wear (e.g. Chanel, Hermes, Bottega Veneta, Tumi, and Tiffany & Co.), so even if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, window shopping here is great fun.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
There is complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the airport (HIAQatar Complimentary WiFi). If you are traveling without your laptop, there are several Internet Kiosks with screens and keyboards dotted throughout the terminal, and sockets are provided near or underneath chairs in the seating areas and food courts.
Al Safa First Class Lounge: If you are flying in first or business class, then you are in for a treat—Hamad Airport lounges rank among the world’s most luxurious. You will go through private check-in areas, be whisked through immigration, and walk up a stunningly minimalist entrance to the lounge. A large water feature is the center point, and seating varies from cozy to secluded and business to family. You have a fine dining restaurant and a bar, but also an area with a buffet full of snacks. Nap rooms and showers, work stations, a TV lounge, and private Duty Free shop are all provided.
Al Mourjan Business Lounge: On the first floor with views across the terminal, the chic lounge is large and comfortable with various seating options. The seats offer free water and wrapped cookies, and there is a sit-down restaurant, a buffet snack bar, a bar, magazines and TV, plus work stations, showers, and a games room.
First Class Lounge: Confusingly, the First Class lounge is not for first class travelers but for Qatar Airways Platinum card holders flying in economy, as well as other Oneworld airlines Emerald frequent flyer customers. It has all the offerings of a good lounge, with food buffets, a bar, workstations, TV area, and comfortable seating.
Business Class Lounge: Equally, this Business Class lounge is not actually for business class travelers but for Qatar Airways Gold and Silver as well as other Oneworld airlines Sapphire frequent flyer customers. With the same basic offerings of food and drink, TV, Wi-Fi, and showers, it is still a great place to relax before your flight.
Oryx Lounge: If you are flying economy, there is the Oryx Lounge where, for QAR 200 ($55) you can gain access and rest in comfortable chairs, enjoy some light snacks ranging from salads to warm snacks to local sweets and cakes, coffee, and soft drinks. There are work stations with Macs provided, free Wi-Fi and charging stations, and for entertainment, there is a small TV lounge, a selection of magazines, and a games room.
Al Maha Lounge: If you are booking an Al Maha meet and greet service, you have access to their lounge.
Arrival Lounges: For First and Business travelers, there are lounges available upon arrival offering shower facilities, high-speed Wi-Fi, business centers, and smoking rooms.
Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Center: For a fee of QAR 175 you have access to a chic 25-meter swimming pool, a fully equipped gym, a hydrotherapy tub, and showers with soaps, shampoo, towels, and hair-driers. For an extra fee, you can book yourself a massage and facial. There is also a squash court, but you will need to come prepared with your own gear.
Oryx Airport Hotel
Hourly packages are available in this hotel right inside the terminal, and room choices range from Superior to a Presidential Suite. All come with facilities such as ironing boards, mini-fridge, access to the Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre, and en-suite shower rooms.
How to Spend Your Layover
Depending on how much time you will spend at the airport, you can walk around the terminal and look at the incredible art, spend time in the Oryx Lounge, or check into the hotel for a few hours. If you have enough time to leave the airport, and your layover is more than five hours, you can book a city tour with Discover Qatar Tours, who have a kiosk in Concourse A. For QAR 75 you will get a guided bus tour taking in the highlights of the city, such as the Corniche, Katara Cultural Village, the Museum of Islamic Art, and The Pearl.
For more flexibility and comfort, they also offer a private limousine tour.
Hamad Airport is a veritable art gallery with some stunning large public art displayed throughout. The one you cannot miss, quite literally, is the giant yellow teddy bear, Lamp Bear by Urs Fischer. He sits near the lounges. Look out for the two sculptures entitled Flying Man by Dia Al-Azzawi, and Small Lie by KAWS. Other Worlds by Tom Otterness is a great interactive piece which doubles as a playground, and Cosmos by Othoniel is inspired by the galaxies and calligraphy. There are plenty more pieces throughout, making a short layover an art feast.