The current Doha airport is an interesting place, to say the least. As you can imagine, security is high and I found out just how high when I went from the ticket counter to the gate area.
I put my bags through the x-ray machine, stepped thru the metal detector, then was lead to a small room where I was hand patted by a woman. It wasn’t a horrible experience, just strange. I only felt a tad bit violated.
Now once you get past security, the airport is one huge duty-free shop. Everything from alcohol to electronics, to watches, this place has it all. I found that cigarettes are CHEAP! I spent QAR 87 for 2 cartons of Marlboro Lights, which converted to $24! A "smokin" deal if you ask me. I looked at the cosmetics, liquor, and memory cards for my camera and I didn’t feel that the value was THAT great, but I did see plenty of people filling suitcases with bottles of vodka and whiskey to take out of the country for the weekend; alcohol is prohibited in Qatar, as it is a Muslim country.
The work week for the Middle East is Sunday through Thursday, which means their weekends start on Friday. I was at the airport on a Thursday night and it was packed with people going to Dubai, and places beyond, for the weekend.
This airport is small and cluttered with seating areas. The restrooms are quite small, making the lines long, and they’re pretty dirty. This is no Ritz. There is a restaurant on the upper level, but I’ve heard that there are no announcements up there so you need to pay attention to the time. I got a few snacks in the duty-free shop to keep me occupied while I waited for my flight. The seating area is also small, I guess that’s why they’re building a new airport, south of the city. They vow the new airport will take only 9 months to build, so it should be up and running by September 2006.
There were plenty of Americans waiting for their flights, as there is a large military base here. The airport staff was nice, and they all spoke English. It’s basically a madhouse in there, because it’s so small. I can’t wait to see the new airport when it’s done... it’s supposed to be very nice.