Q-rating a sense of wonder in Qatar

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

Didn’t I come to bring you a sense of wonder?
Didn’t I come to lift your fiery vision bright?
Didn’t I come to bring you a sense of wonder in the flame?

– Sense of Wonder, Van Morrison

The weather has turned cooler in Hong Kong during my two-week sojourn abroad in Singapore and Doha. It’s a mild 26°C in Discovery Bay (above) and lovely with it, just as it is lovely to be home after a momentous fortnight spent at The Trinity Forum and then at the inauguration of the Expansion at Hamad International Airport.

Being back home means seven days worth of rapid antigent tests (RAT) and three polymerase chain reaction (PCR) versions but I am not complaining given that I thankfully no longer need to hotel quarantine.

Anyone smell a RAT? Hopefully the first of seven all-clear results.

For once I didn’t take much advantage of the impeccable service onboard Qatar Airways when I flew home in the early hours of Friday morning. In fact it was lights out almost from take-off until landing for the creator of the website that never sleeps.

My tiredness was perhaps to be expected given that I had only arrived in Doha on Wednesday afternoon from Singapore. Waking up in the night at the splendid, newly-opened Oryx Garden Hotel right next to the Expansion, I glanced at my watch and saw it was 8.15am. The media conference was set to start at 9am. Time to get moving. Alas it wasn’t until I had showered, shaved and got suited that I realised I hadn’t changed the time on my watch. I had in fact woken at 3.15am. Anyone who has done something similar will know how hard it is to then go back to sleep. And no, I didn’t.

Nothing was too much trouble for my two Qatar Airways/Hamad International Airport guardian angels, Ismahane (left) and Nadia, both from Morocco. My special dispensation for a 35-hour transit (usually limited to 24 hours) meant they not only had to secure my suitcase out of cargo but also arange for me to take it to the gate for my return leg. And then a Hong Kong-required PCR in the middle of it all. All in a hard day’s work; all taken in their stride.

Any weariness soon dissipated, however, once I walked the much-anticipated Expansion at Hamad International Airport. There is sometimes too much hyperbole in our industry but this development fully deserves all the superlatives that have been thrown at it by me and others.

The images below (and in our full report) capture just some of what amounts to a feast of the senses, packed with vast internal panoramas, the magical allure of an indoor tropical gardens, expansive walkways along the luxury-lined shopping avenues (and among the trees), a thrilling fusion of shopping and dining, and much more.

Back in the South Plaza there is plenty kicking off too. As in the celebration of a certain football tournament starting eight days from now.
Lamp Bear is set to be the most Instagrammed teddy bear on the planet over coming weeks
This fantastic digital advertising installation in the North Plaza, adjacent to The Orchard, captures the excitement and delight that lies just moments away
Walking among the treetops in an airport setting
The unique design of the area allows trees and plants to adapt easily to the internal conditions and grow throughout the life of the airport. The Orchard benefits from copious natural light, an approach designed to create a calming ambiance and promote a sense of wellbeing.

The magnificent Expansion features more than 90 brands in one vast shopping area, a world-class art collection, a refreshing environment with lush greenery, and a 10,000sq m indoor tropical garden called The Orchard with a 268-sqm water feature – designed to be a focal point for all travellers.

Lit up at night, The Orchard takes on a beautiful shimmering quality


The Orchard’s extensive flora includes over 300 trees and more than 25,000 plants and shrubs sourced from sustainable forests around the world, including Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The commercial offer boasts 65 stores and 35 food & beverage outlets, with some operations such as Fendi and Ralph Lauren featuring airport world-first mixes of both.

But such statistics tell only a tiny part of the tale. You have to see The Orchard from above, walk through it below, stop and listen to the sound of the water feature, the recorded bird song and the quiet hum of conversation all around you, punctuated as it is with expressions of wonder.

For that is what Hamad International Airport, Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free have truly curated (or should that be Q-rated?) here, a Sense of Wonder.

With an understandably proud Qatar Duty Free Vice President Thabet Musleh. I tell you, the website that never sleeps has nothing on this man, who has worked night and day over recent months to get this project over the line.
Pride and passion: Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker (left) and Hamad International Airport Chief Operating Officer Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer address Thursday’s packed media conference
This must rank as some of the most imaginative digital activation in airport retail, courtesy of the great British luxury fashion brand Burberry. See my video below for a closer look. Above it you can see the sublime digital wrap that encircles the entire retail space over some 1.2km of high-resolution display. The state of the art media technology displays more than 169 million pixels of animation on screen. Every hour it comes to life with tailor-made displays that enhance the garden experience. Digital themes include Flora & Gauna, Garden, Qatar Sands of Time, and Mirage.

An airport first to quench an airport thirst. Meet you at Ralph’s for coffee?
Or for fashion?
You are promised a room with a view

The Fendi Bar is an airport first
And is just a short walk from the towering Fendi duplex store

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