A sneak preview of a new wonder of the world

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Day 4 of an 85-day multi-country trip and I’m not sure any of them will be any more exciting than today.

In an hour or so I’m heading out to Hamad International Airport from my excellent downtown Interim Bureau at the Hyatt Regency Oryx to get a preview of the much-anticipated Hamad International Airport expansion.

Based on a few preview images and video clips that Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker and Hamad International Airport Chief Operating Officer Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer showed me last night, I am about to get an insider’s look at the contemporary wonder of the aviation world.

I won’t be able to share any images yet – for good reason details are being kept strictly under wraps – but I will convey my impressions and, without doubt, my excitement.

After ten months without travel due to the quarantine restrictions in Hong Kong, excitement is the operative word as I soak up the privilege of rediscovering this already extraordinary airport.

Yesterday I walked the vast existing terminal with Qatar Duty Free Vice President Thabet Musleh. Thabet is not so much a ball of energy as a whole planet full of it. He’s rightly proud of how well the retail offer is performing – for multiple brands and categories above 2019 levels – and of the way the offer has been evolved and enhanced, not necessarily with more space but with better use of it.

There’s lots of innovation and newness and plenty of store and food & beverage openings, of course. But there’s also a refreshing willingness to try different, even risky things.

There’s the luxury focus you would expect (Louis Vuitton, currently hidden by gorgeous hoardings, will open soon as will Hermès) but also a brilliant emphasis to democratise shopping by introducing accessibly priced offers and even – in the case of the new Big Value concept – whole stores.

It doesn’t just have to be about premium and luxury. This great concept from L’Oréal Paris is driving remarkable revenues, all incremental to the total beauty pie.

Last night I had dinner with Thabet and Alex Tilsley and Mathilde Candotto-Carniel from Burberry who have just opened their revamped boutique featuring the great British brand’s new concept – a first in the travel retail world.

Besides looking lovely, it is generating a fantastic uplift in sales. That’s a recurrent theme here, Thabet says. Invest in quality and innovation; work closely and supportively with brand partners. Build it and they – the customers – will come.

Time to cut it short, I have a wonder of the world to visit. More, much more, to follow soon.

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