Qatar Airways to open world’s largest airport lounge

The new Al Mourjan business class lounge will be part of an indoor tropical garden and central concourse at Hamad Airport.

By David Flynn, October 23 2019

Qatar Airways’ flagship business class and first class lounges are already known for their sprawling footprint, but the new Al Mourjan lounge is set to dwarf them both.

Set to open in 2022 at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, the lounge will occupy a staggering 9,000m² – that's 97,000ft², or around 2.2 acres – and include a gymnasium and spa facilities as well as several restaurants.

It’s part of an ambitious expansion plan to reshape HIA as an "airport of the future” – the centrepiece of which will be a lush indoor tropical garden covering 10,000m², with a 268m² water feature.

If that sounds familiar, it should be: the HIA plan is clearly intended to "out-Jewel” the stunning indoor rainforest-waterfall of Singapore’s Changi Airport (below).

Jewel heist?

"Somebody copied our design, which was already on the table six years ago," said Qatar Airways CEO His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, who is also CEO of Hamad International Airport. "We had individuals from that country, I will not name it, who took that and did it (themselves)."

However, Al Baker said one difference between "the jewel of Hamad International" and the Airport Which  Shall Not Be Named is that "one is a shopping mall, and one is an international airport."

Featuring flora from sustainable forests and plantations around the globe, selected to acclimatise to the airport’s indoor conditions, the garden will dominate a new central concourse linking the current D and E concourses and thus serve as a focal point for all travellers.

Walking tracks will weave their way around the garden, flanked by "contemporary retail and dining concepts among other leisure attractions and facilities."

The project will also add nine more gates for the twin-aisle aircraft which form the bulk of Qatar’s long-range fleet, while a new transfer area will reduce connection times.

A bigger lounge to meet growing demand

The new Al Mourjan lounge will complement rather than replace the existing lounge, and feature dramatic views overlooking the gardens.

"We plan to revolutionise the global passenger experience" Al Baker tells Executive Traveller – and forecasts point to a flood of passengers, soaring above the current tally of 35 million travellers per year to more than 53 million per year by 2022.

The D and E concourses will in turn be expanded after 2022 to further raise that capacity ceiling north of 60 million passengers per year.

However, while the airline and its hub pride themselves on speedy connections for transiting passengers, Al Baker expects an increasing number of travellers will opt to spend longer in the airport or even in the city.

"Some passengers prefer to have fast connections," he tells Executive Traveller. "We also have passengers who choose to take the next flight because we have many (flights) to a single destination."

"Some people want to stay longer at the airport, and we also want people to stay overnight in Doha, so we offer very attractive  (overnight hotel) packages." 

David Flynn travelled to Doha as a guest of Qatar Airways.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 573

When will these airlines and airports understand what it is that makes SIN such a great airport? So many Chinese and Middle Eastern airports claim they are creating a SIN-beating airport and always come up short. Here are some of the things I see as being SIN strengths that most other airports miss:

- treat Economy pax as special too

- quiet environment - no announcements and the carpet means no noise from trolley bags everywhere

- really easy and unintimidating arrivals and departures customs process

- Arrivals Hall feels just as special as Departures level

- has great shopping but you don't feel like you are being pushed through a shopping centre. Admittedly the Jewel is really just a shopping centre but you don't have to go there if you don't want to.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

Give me Singapore every day of the week.

For an airport as spacious and pleasant as Hamad, I am constantly annoyed by the fact that they use remote stands so much. This is such a buzz-kill when travelling with someone like Qatar Airways who provide such a good experience. Why on earth would you build such a large airport, then not use all of the gates that it has?

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 186

Just been there a few days ago,overcrowded just like Dubai,landed from Adelaide before 5 am,the food is horrible,hardly anything to eat,lucky that they serve good brekkie on the plane,

Now on my way via Singapore this evening,you cannot compare the 2!

Been Changi in May,the jewel wasnt open yet,looking forward to it,

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jun 2018

Total posts 4

When are one world airlines going to revolt and exclude top tier Privileged holders travelling economy or non revenue/upgrade flights from their business and first lounges

Qatar are petty snobs with their four different lounge offerings which treat other airline pax as 2nd class travellers

Time CX QF demanded equal treatment for their platinum and top tier members

17 Oct 2019

Total posts 3

This is why I won't fly Qatar anymore.

21 Aug 2019

Total posts 30

Size is not everything. Singapore works because it is efficient. HK works for the same reason. HIA just has to be efficient in transiting PAX. Leisure travellers might want to linger. Business PAX need a shower and freshen up for the onward leg. For me HK (if on CX) and Singapore (on QF) do the job. Shopping... Meh.

25 Feb 2015

Total posts 25

Totally agree with everything said by everyone so far, especially @reeves35.

I can only assume this new 2.2 hectare lounge will be available only for Qatar Airways passengers travelling in business class *sigh*.

My pet hate when flying is having to catch a bus between the terminal and the plane and my recent experience in Dubai was just that....sounds like Doha is similar? Meanwhile, hardly ever the case in Singapore.

Also agree on the whole simple but incredibly influencing factor of use of sound-dulling furnishing choices (carpets, sound insulating panels in the ceiling) which make such a huge difference to overall ambience as opposed to echoey hard surfaces everywhere.

05 Nov 2019

Total posts 1

Jewel heist? Yes, but by whom?

The Singapore Changi expansion was put up for tender in 2012, and the final design by world-famous Safdie Architects was awarded in May 2013.

Qatar Airways' outspoken CEO Akbar Al Baker said their design was on the table six years ago. i.e. in 2013

Six years ago Singapore ALREADY confirmed the design submitted by Safdie Architects, submitted by tender in 2012!

No need for a rocket scientist to do the maths that Qatar has copied Changi Jewel, and not vice versa!


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