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After a night back in a bleak and cold London after the balmy warmth of Dubai, I’ve returned to the heat of the Middle East in both the temperature and retail sense.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of covering the world-exclusive launch of the Dior Les Parfums Podium at Hamad International Airport in Doha, a collaboration between the French fragrance house and Qatar Duty Free.
This is the fourth incarnation of a special partnership between the two organisations and a powerful one at that. The images above and below tell their own story: this is just about as impactful, engaging and immersive as a pop-up installation can get.
“Parfums Christian Dior and Qatar Duty Free have a connection unlike any other in the travel retail industry,” enthused Qatar Duty Free Vice President Operations Thabet Musleh and it’s certainly clear from spending time with both teams in the past two days that’s there a very good chemistry there.
I’ve also had the chance while here to interview Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Akbar Al Baker. I’ve interviewed ‘the Chief’ as CNN’s Richard Quest calls him a few times down the years and he’s about the most refreshing, candid and impactful interviewee you could meet.
No euphemisms here, whether it’s on what the current blockade of Qatar, the in-house duty free model, or the bold future he envisions for airport, airline, duty free retailer – and country.
Look out soon for my interview with this most driven of men. It’s a compelling read I promise.
I flew out here in Qsuite, Qatar Airways’ superb new business class offering. What a treat. My international sojourns take me all around the world on numerous airlines. I doubt though that I have ever experienced such a quality offer or a better-trained, genuinely hospitable crew. Ok, they knew who I was and that I was coming here for an important airline-related story, but I watched their interaction with other passengers too. It was equally top-drawer. Much as I love it here in Doha, I can’t wait for the return flight to experience more of the same.
A word to close on the Al Safwa First Lounge at Hamad International. It’s described as the only seven-star airport lounge in the world and yesterday I discovered why. It’s more like being in a fusion of an art gallery, a palatial but supremely refined private house and a museum. There is quite simply nothing like it in the aviation world.