He has captained the ship through the most tumultuous, sustained and severe storm in our industry’s history. He has done it with a trademark determination and a remarkable calm. Al Mal Tiempo, Buena Cara – when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Over dinner Lal told me how he would watch the wealthy residents and citizens of Dubai turn up to his workplace in their swanky cars. “I would look at the cars and decide which one I would buy one day,” he said. Not dream about. Decide. And that is precisely what he did.
The expansion will feature 380 trees (and we are talking seriously big trees, many already in place); 26,000 shrubs; a waterfall; and a dazzling array of retail and food & beverage experiences, the likes of which I promise you the airport world has never seen.
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.
This is the closest I’ve got to Hainan since before the pandemic. Where’s my parachute when I need it?
Soon afterwards, a gorgeously green World Cucumber Day full and fruity Hendrick’s gin tapestry dazzled readers, who could have been fogiven for not knowing whether to drink or read us.
I cannot imagine many Chinese or other Asian travellers feeling remotely comfortable wandering through an airport or boarding a plane in Europe where most people are unmasked.
The best airports (and Istanbul is high on that list) are magnificent amphitheatres that house not only people but emotions (sadness, excitement, anticipation, joy) and are therefore ripe for great experiences.
Just like Uncle Chu, this workload sometimes causes me to paws for thought and look up with a sad face for sympathy. That’s what comes from being an old newshound, I suppose.
As I write, two members of my team are suffering from COVID, caught in the maelstrom of the pandemic as it rages once again through the UK, where some 9.3 million people have suffered from the disease and almost 142,000 people have died.
It might not feel like it when you’re sat down bleary-eyed and cold inside a giant repurposed air terminal hoping like heck you haven’t caught COVID but the whole system is hugely impressive.
In the world of international airports, you could make a very good case that this is the leading hotspot in our business.
Visiting Hamad International Airport and Qatar Duty Free is like taking an elixir for those COVID blues.