A warm Qatari welcome as stage is set for MEADFA 2013

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The travel retail industry is gathering this week in Doha, Qatar, one of the most exciting and fast-growing markets anywhere in the world, for the annual Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) Conference. The event begins on Sunday night with what promises to be a sumptuous opening cocktail before two days of the conference and networking, all at the Ritz-Carlton Doha.

It’s a spectacular venue, seated on the coast on the outer edge of Doha city, with the stunning view over the marina (as seen in the image below, taken from my room) and the sea beyond providing a memorable backdrop – and the winter sun delivering a welcome respite from a chilly late November in Europe.

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It’s been a couple of years since I was here last, and even in that time the cityscape has changed, with new hotels and office blocks springing up along the highway into town. The pace of construction looks to have increased too, with many more buildings on the way.

Some things haven’t changed though. When I was last here I remember well the superb hospitality and efficiency of the Qatar Airways teams on the ground and in the air. That five-star service is just as classy and consistent today, from the crew on the flight from London to my hostess Monea on arrival, who helped smooth my path through the arrivals procedures.

After that welcome from Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free, I’m looking forward to another few days of Qatari hospitality, not to mention meeting friends and colleagues old and new, and to what should be a memorable MEADFA 2013 in Doha.

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