Hamad International Airport….The Best in Middle East

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On exactly 5:16 am, a white apron shuttle bus belonging to Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) completed its task of transporting all Kuwait Airways flight KU 621 passengers. Qatar Aviation Services itself is the main company which focuses in ground handling at Hamad International Airport (HIA) .

Go to immigration counter.

From arrival time, it would take thirty minutes to complete the immigration process, then crossing exit gate and enjoyed fresh situation of Arrivals Meet and Greet Hall.

Baggage conveyor belts.

Arrivals Meet and Greet Hall

Bottom view.
Top view.

Hunting for information about Qatar tourism at information desk, I was silent watching a display in neon box. The pattern which shows that HIA has obtained Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 3. This shows that the airport is able to respond to climate change through energy optimization programs and is successful in collaborating with stakeholders in managing third party emissions.

Information desk.

The time that was too early morning was able to put me to sleep in a chair covered in brown leather and located under a date palm tree which towered over the room.

Waiting chair….

An hour and a half later, I was shocked. The sun peeked at hall and airport visitors were already busy passing by. I stepped to airport’s east wing to wash and prepared to leave the airport.

Toilet.
Very clean.

Two water bottles which had dried up since last night were now filled. I left front area of toilet which was decorated with a herd of long-horned deer scattered on a side of the hall. Shiny chocolate like a fighter deer.

Free water station.
Contemporary Dutch art, “8 oryxes” represents a herd of deer typical of the Arabian Peninsula.

In the airport’s west wing, I hunted for money changers. A little tricky to find it, a little bit to right from main hall. 144 US Dollars changed to 479 Qatari Riyals, then 70 Riyals were left to buy a 2.5 GB SIM Card with a validity period of 30 days.

Travelex Qatar Money Changer.
Oredoo booth.

Aku menemukan lagi karya seni kontemporer setelah menukar Dollar. Karya tanpa nama sebagai bentuk penghormatan kepada para pekerja pembangun HIA. TaI found another piece of contemporary art after exchanging Dollars. An anonymous work as a form of respect for HIA construction workers. It looked like their signature was etched on that work of art.

Italian taste art.

Still on west wing, finished in equipping myself with drinking water, SIM Card and some Riyal money sheets, it was time to go to downtown using airport bus number 727. To riding it, I needed a KARWA Smart Card which could be purchased at automatic ticketing machine in waiting room of airport bus terminal.

Waiting room of airport bus terminal.

Departure Hall

If four days earlier I went to downtown using the airport bus, then when I left Doha, I used Doha Metro to HIA. Just wanted to feel the difference. From Casper Hotel, I took a Free Doha Metrolink Shuttle Service. A brown colored pink bus dropped me off at Oqba Ibn Nafie Station. Gliding with Doha Metro, one station later, I arrived at Hamad International Airport T1 Station.

Airport station interior.

Before passing through airport car park, the HIA Mosque tower became the best view on skybridge route which connected Doha Metro Station and Terminal 1. Then,travelator helped me to relieve my tired calf muscles after five days of exploring hot streets of Doha.

HIA Mosque tower.
Terminal 1 parking lot.
Travelator to Terminal 1.

Now I was sitting in check-in counter zone waiting for Philippines Airlines flight number to appear on one of 12 LCD screens on wall. Like waiting for a lottery number, I was happy when the number actually appeared. I rushed to check-in counter PR 685 which seemed quiet.

Seventh line check-in counter.

Hi, please queue, Sir!” warning from a ground staff who automatically braked my steps. He pointed to a queue of Filipinos starting from an airport pole. They all laughed at me and lowered my face in shame.

Check-in counter.

After stamping my passport, I went down stairs and found an old dream. It was obvious how cute the Lamp Bear was sitting helplessly stuck to a black lamppost. Every passerby scrambled to immortalize themself with the ill-fated bear. A Bangladeshi finally helped immortalize myself with the bear.

Duty free zone with a Lamp Bear mascot in the middle.
Yihaa….

I started looking for gate D3, a gate from which I flew to Manila. Took an escalator and rode skytrain to concourse D. Within 2 minutes, the skytrain dropped me off at a new hall with many forks leading to all gates at councourses D and E. The junction was marked by contemporary art titled “Cosmos” in the center.

Going to gate D3.
HIA skytrain.
Contemporary French art called “Cosmos” which symbolizes the world’s traveling culture.

Finally I arrived at waiting room at gate D3 and waited for Philippines Airlines to arrive to pick me up.

Gate D3.

How about Hamad International Airport, how magnificent is it?

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One Thousand and Five Hundred Dollars in Qatar Immigration

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Peeking Departure Hall.

I was still standing still holding the iron fence on a side of the Arrival Hall Hamad International Airport. Separated by a glass partition, I still stared to the bronze statue nicknamed “Lamp Bear” which is the pride of the best airport in the Middle East region. While other passengers moved very fast with their respective travel trolleys. The yellow bear statue rised as high as seven meters and made every traveler who crosses it like a swarm of ants which busy with their own desires.

Soon I would pass through the immigration counter to adding stamp collection on my e-passport. Reading some stories of several homeland travelers who weren’t a bit rejected, I was already prepared with a lot of questions at the counter later. Understandably, I came to a country with the highest per capita income in the entire world. Meanwhile, my income from a salesman profession in Indonesia’s capital city was only a fingernail compared to the income of this country citizens.

“Don’t worry, Donny. You have prepared well”, I thought to calming down myself. Flashback to a month before departure, when I spoke with a female staff on duty at the front office of Qatar Embassy in Jakarta via telephone. “Entering Qatar doesn’t need a visa, Sir. The important thing is to bring 1,500 US dollars, plane ticket to leaving Qatar and booking confirmation from the hotel where you’ll be staying”, he briefly explained at the time.

Now I was in front of the immigration counter and directed by an officerto queue in a line which was still closed with a tape barrier. There was no immigration officers at the counter yet. Five minutes later the immigration officer came and entering into immigration box. Adding another five minutes to prepare computer, camera and some other supporting equipment. After that, the first traveler in queue came forward. She was told to move her position to take her beautiful face in a photo. Over and over….I got suspicious, maybe he collected those photos for himself…..Hahahaha #joked.

It was my turn in third queue to be called, I had prepared my passport, booking confirmation from Casper Hotel, Philippines Airlines e-ticket, and credit card. Less than 1,500 US dollars, as I recall, I only brought it with the remaining limit of 500 US dollars. If it was rejected…. Well, I would stay for four nights at the airport and would wait for my return schedule…. Crazy gamble.

The last documents in front of the immigration counter.

A handsome officer with a thin beard in a white robe and turban caught my e-passport which almost fell on the counter. He had been flipping through that international identity for a long time. One by one, he looked at my track record. As far as I remembered, my green passport was already filled until page 32.

“Which countries did you go to before coming here?”, he asked, intently looking at me. “I went to Malaysia, India, Dubai, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain since 29 December, Sir”, I replied, slightly shaking with anxiety. He was still watching me, even before he asked again, I was a little proactive and tried my best to save the situation “This is my return ticket and this is my hotel booking confirmation, Sir”. He just slightly frowned as he said “Oh, No need … No need”. Ah finally, so easy, not as I feared.

Free Visa with one month old.

Welcome Qatar!, my mind cheered with joy.

It was time to exploring Hamad International Airport before going to downtown. Come on….!

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Hamad International Airport….Terbaik di Timur Tengah.

Tepat pukul 5:16 pagi, apron shuttle bus putih milik Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) menyelesaikan tugasnya dalam mengangkut semua penumpang Kuwait Airways bernomor terbang KU 621. Qatar Aviatin Services sendiri adalah perusahaan utama yang berfokus pada ground handling di Hamad International Airport (HIA).

Menuju konter imigrasi.

Dari ketibaan, perlu waktu tiga puluh menit hingga menyelesaikan proses imigrasi, lalu melintasi exit gate dan menikmati segarnya suasana Arrivals Meet and Greet Hall.

Baggage conveyor belt.

Arrivals Meet and Greet Hall

Tampak bawah.
Tampak atas.

Berburu informasi tentang pariwisata Qatar  di information desk, aku terdiam memperhatikan tampilan di neon box. Dipaparkan pola yang menunjukkan bahwa HIA telah mendapatkan Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 3. Ini menunjukkan bahwa bandara ini mampu merespon perubahan iklim melalui program optimasi energi dan berhasil dalam kolaborasi bersama stakeholders dalam mengelola emisi pihak ketiga.

Information desk.

Waktu yang terlalu pagi mampu menidurkanku si sebuah kursi bercover kulit warna cokelat dan terletak di bawah pohon kurma yang menjulang tinggi di ruangan.

Kursi tunggu itu….

Satu setengah jam kemudian, aku terperanjat. Matahari mengintip ruangan dan pengunjung bandara sudah ramai berlalu-lalang. Pergilah aku ke sayap timur untuk berbasuh dan mempersiapkan diri untuk meninggalkan bandara.

Toilet.
Sangat bersih.

Dua botol minum yang mengering sejak semalam kini terisi.  Aku meninggalkan area depan toilet yang dihiasi sekawanan kijang bertanduk panjang yang disebar di sebuah sisi hall. Cokelat mengkilat bak kijang petarung.

Free water station.
Seni kontemporer ala Belanda, “8 oryxes” merepresentasikan kawanan kijang khas Jazirah Arab.

Di sayap barat, aku berburu money changer. Sedikit tricky untuk menemukannya, sedikit masuk ke kanan dari hall utama. 144 Dollar Amerika berganti menjadi 479 Riyal Qatar, lalu tersisih 70 Riyal untuk membeli SIM Card berkuota 2,5 GB dengan masa berlaku 30 hari.

Travelex Qatar Money Changer.
Booth Oredoo.

Aku menemukan lagi karya seni kontemporer setelah menukar Dollar. Karya tanpa nama sebagai bentuk penghormatan kepada para pekerja pembangun HIA. Tampak tanda tangan mereka tertoreh pada karya seni ini.

Seni rasa Italia.

Masih di sayap barat, selesai melengkapi diri dengan air minum, SIM Card dan beberpa lembar Riyal, tiba saatnya menuju ke kota menggunkan airport bus bernomor 727. Untuk menaikinya diperlukan KARWA Smart Card yang bisa dibeli di automatic ticketing machine di ruang tunggu airport bus terminal.

Ruang tunggu airport bus terminal.

Departure Hall

Jika empat hari sebelumnya aku menuju kota menggunakan airport bus, maka saat meninggalkan Doha, aku menggunakan Doha Metro menuju HIA. Ingin merasakan perbedaan saja. Dari Casper Hotel, aku menaiki Free Doha Metrolink Shuttle Service. Bus warna cokelat berkelir pink itu menurunkanku di Stasiun Oqba Ibn Nafie. Meluncur bersama Doha Metro, berselang satu stasiun, aku sampai di Stasiun Hamad International Airport T1.

Interior stasiun bandara.

Sebelum melewati airport car park, menara HIA Mosque menjadi pemandangan terbaik pada lintasan skybridge yang menghubungkan Stasiun Doha Metro dan Terminal 1. Kemudian, travelator menyelematkan otot betisku yang kelelahan setelah lima hari menelusuri jalanan panas Doha.

Menara HIA Mosque.
Lahan parkir Terminal 1.
Travelator menuju Terminal 1

Kini aku terduduk di check-in counter zone menunggu nomor penerbangan milik Philippines Airlines muncul di salah satu dari 12 layar LCD yang terpajang di tembok etalase. Bak menunggu nomor lotre, aku girang ketika nomor itu benar-benar muncul. Bergegaslah aku menuju konter check-in PR 685 yang tampak senyap.

Konter check-in baris ketujuh.

Hi, please queue, Sir!” tegur ground staff yang otomatis mengerem langkahku. Dia menunjuk antrian warga Philippina yang bermula dari sebuah tiang bandara. Mereka semua menertawakanku dan menyungkurkan mukaku dalam rasa malu.

Konter check-in.

Selesai mengecap passport, aku menuruni tangga dan menemukan impian lama. Tampak jelas lucunya Lamp Bear yang duduk tak berdaya tertancap pada sebuah tiang lampu berwarna hitam. Setiap yang melintas berebut mengabadikan dirinya dengan si beruang naas itu. Seorang Bangladesh akhirnya membantu mengabadikan diri dengan si beruang.

Duty free zone bermascot Lamp Bear di tengahnya.
Yihaaaa….

Aku mulai mencari keberadaan gate D3, gerbang dimana aku terbang ke Manila. Menaiki sebuah escalator dan bersambung dengan skytrain menuju concourse D.  Dalam 2 menit, skytrain menurunkanku di hall baru dengan banyak percabangan menuju ke seluruh gate di councourse D dan E. Percabangan itu ditandai dengan seni kontemporer bertajuk “Cosmos” di tengahnya.

Menuju gate D3.
HIA skytrain.
Seni kontemporer ala Perancis bernama “Cosmos”yang melambangkan budaya traveling dunia.

Akhirnya aku sampai di ruang tunggu gate D3 dan menanti Philippines Airlines tiba untuk menjemputku.

Gate D3.

Gimana Hamad International Airport, Megah sekali kan?

Seribu Lima Ratus Dollar di Imigrasi Qatar

Mengintip Departure Hall.

Aku masih saja berdiri terdiam sambil memegang pagar besi di salah satu sisi Arrival Hall Hamad International Airport. Dipisahkan partisi kaca, aku masih memandangi patung perunggu berjuluk “Lamp Bear” yang menjadi kebanggaan bandara terbaik di kawasan Timur Tengah ini. Sementara penumpang lain bergerak sangat cepat dengan  travel trolleynya masing-masing. Patung beruang kuning itu menjulang setinggi tujuh meter dan menjadikan setiap pelancong yang melintasinya bak sekerumun semut yang sibuk dengan hajatnya masing-masing.

Sebentar lagi aku akan melewati konter imigrasi untuk menambah koleksi stempel di e-passport. Membaca kisah beberapa pelancong tanah air yang tak sedikit tertolak masuk, aku sudah bersiap diri dengan banyak pertanyaan di konter nanti. Maklum aku datang di negara berpendapatan perkapita tertinggi di seantero jagad. Sedangkan penghasilanku dari profesi salesman di ibukota hanyalah seujung kuku dibandingkan pendapatan warga mereka.

Jangan khawatir, Donny. Kamu sudah melakukan persiapan dengan baik”, aku membatin menenangkan diri. Flashback ke sebulan sebelum keberangkatan, kala aku bercakap dengan staff wanita yang bertugas di front office Kedutaan Qatar di Jakarta lewat saluran telepon. “Masuk Qatar tidak perlu visa, mas. Yang penting bawa uang 1.500 Dollar Amerika, tiket pesawat untuk keluar Qatar dan booking confirmation dari hotel tempat mas akan menginap”, ujarnya menjelaskan singkat waktu itu.

Kini aku telah berada di depan konter imigrasi dan diarahkan petugas untuk mengantri di jalur yang masih tertutup dengan tape barrier. Belum ada petugas di konter. Lima menit kemudian petugas imigrasi datang dan memasuki kotak kecil itu. Menambah lagi lima menit untuk mempersiapkan komputer, kamera dan beberapa peralatan pendukung lain. Setelahnya pelancong pertama di antrian maju. Dia disuruh berpindah-pindah posisi untuk diambil paras ayunya dalam sebuah foto. Berulang-ulang….Aku jadi curiga, jangan-jangan dia mengoleksi foto itu buat dirinya sendiri…..Hahahaha.

Tiba giliranku di antrian ketiga untuk menghadap, aku sudah siapkan passport, booking confirmation dari Casper Hotel, e-ticket Philippines Airlines, serta kartu kredit. Tak sampai 1.500 Dollar Amerika, seingatku aku hanya membawanya dengan sisa limit 500 Dollar Amerika saja….Jika ditolak….Ya sudah, aku akan berdiam empat malam di airport dan menunggu jadwal pulang….Perjudian gila.

Senjata terakhir di depan konter imigrasi.

Petugas tampan berjambang tipis dengan gamis dan sorban putih menangkap e-passportku yang hampir jatuh di konternya. Lama dia membolak-balik identitas international itu. Satu persatu diperhatikan rekam jejakku, Seingatku buku hijau tersebut sudah terisi hingga halaman 32.

Which countries did you go to before came here?”, tanyanya sambil menatapku lekat. “I went to Malaysia, India, Dubai, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain since 29 December, Sir”, jawabku sedikit bergetar diserang was-was. Petugas itu masih saja mengawasiku, bahkan sebelum dia bertanya kembali, aku sedikit proaktif dan berusaha sekuat mungkin menyelamatkan keadaan “This is my return ticket and this is my hotel booking confirmation, Sir”. Dia hanya sedikit mengernyitkan dahi sambil berujar “Oh, No need…No need”. Ah akhirnya, begitu mudah, tak seperti yang kukhawatirkan.

Free Visa berusia satu bulan.

Welcome Qatar !, batinku bersorak girang.

Saatnya berkeliling Hamad International Airport sebelum pergi ke tengah kota. Yukss….!