It looks like Christmas, Christmas at the airport This year Doors are locked and bolted Let the festivities begin – Christmas at the airport, Nick Lowe
And so my penultimate flight of the year is underway. I’m just over two hours out of Hong Kong at 33,998 feet above Luang Prabang, Laos en route to Dubai to report on Dubai Duty Free’s 40th anniversary celebrations on Wednesday (20 December).
I have more than a slight feeling of déjà vu, having pretty much flown the same route to Doha last week.
This time at least I am not suffering from pre-flight food poisoning and am instead enjoying a glass of chilled Louis Latour Pouilly Fuisse 2021 onboard Emirates EK383 while trying to put a dent in my Matterhorn-like backlog of feature stories.
I sometimes wish readers could see how I compose so many of my news stories, features, interviews and Blogs, with my laptop crammed (often alongside my meal tray) on my seat table, tapping away throughout the journey, my only inflight entertainment the flight map. I have an awful lot of movies to catch up when finally I declare myself free of duty at last.
I’ve bade a fond farewell to Hong Kong International Airport for 2023 and how very good it is to see the place buzzing with travellers (and travelling shoppers).
As I have noted before, it is very easy to forget that a very short time ago this place resembled a cross between a military hospital and a deserted wild west town where tumbleweed might any moment blow along the walkways. Now it’s almost restored to its full and considerable glory.
As you will have likely discovered from my coverage, my brief sojourn to Doha was to visit the latest offering from Qatar Duty Free’s unrelenting innovation production line.
Each time I visit Hamad International Airport I am amazed and enthralled by the sheer ambition, let alone excellence of execution, of what the airport company and Qatar Duty Free are delivering.
The offering in question this time was Souq Al Matar – dubbed with much justification a “groundbreaking twist on traditional Qatari heritage and hospitality”.
Souq Al Matar – matar being the Arabic word for airport – is a traditional Qatari Souq located in Hamad International Airport’s North Node terminal, featuring seven shops and two restaurants. I’ll let my pictures tell the story as best they can but really you have to see it in person to appreciate its scale and sense of provenance.
Which is a neat segue to the fact that American publisher Merriam-Webster recently chose authentic as its word of the year. Consumers are demanding much more of brands and travellers are no different. Provenance matters.
Authentic has a number of meanings, Merriam-Webster points out, including ‘not false or imitation’, a synonym of real and actual; and also ‘true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character’.
Authentic is hard to define and subject to debate, two reasons the publisher says, that send many people to the dictionary.
Perhaps they should simply visit Hamad International Airport instead. ✈
MEMORIES OF QATAR DUTY FREE AND HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT