Remarks: Due to heavy congestion at OTBD, a second international airport has been under construction in Doha since 2009 located 5 km/3 sm east of the old field. Temporarily dubbed “New Doha International Airport” and targeted for completion in 2013, it will include two parallel runways, one of which is claimed to be the longest in the world for a civil airport (18,000 ft.), to accommodate fully loaded Airbus A380 jumbo jets in summer desert temperatures. The airport is designed to absorb three times the amount of traffic as OTBD, or 320,000 movements and 29 million passengers per year.
BCA appreciates the assistance of Skyplan International in the preparation of this report.
By David Esler firstname.lastname@example.org
Descended from a fishing village on the shore of a small peninsula jutting out of Arabia into the Persian Gulf, Doha is the capital and largest city of Qatar.
Since Qatar achieved its sovereignty in 1971, after having been a British protectorate for 55 years, it has become one of the wealthiest states in the Middle East thanks to its oil and natural gas reserves. Today, it boasts the highest per capita GDP in the world — $104,300 in 2011, as its indigenous population numbers only 300,000 citizens, bolstered by a huge expatriate workforce — fed by an economy growing at an annual rate of nearly 20%. Total GDP last year was $184 billion. Petrochemicals and liquefied natural gas are responsible for much of this largess (the country sits on 13% of the world's natural gas reserves, which, along with oil, account for 85% of Qatar's exports), which the emirate has invested in its people and infrastructure. It has thus become a magnet for business and a popular destination for business aviation operators.
Despite a coup in 1995 in which the ruling sheikh was overthrown by his son, the heredity line of the Al Thani family, which has presided over Qatar as an emirate (or absolute monarchy) since the mid-19th century, was preserved. Qatar is presently ruled by Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and in the last 30 years has developed close ties to the U.S., which bases its Central Command Forward Headquarters and Combined Air Operations Center in Doha. The country's total population (including expat employees) numbers 1.85 million people, some 60% residing in Doha.
It is believed by some scholars that the name Doha is derived from the Arabic word ad-dawha for “the big tree,” possibly a reference to a large tree, or landmark, that stood in the prehistoric fishing village that constituted the first settlement on the Qatari Peninsula. Today, the image is symbolic of a country with investments spread over many cultural, educational, industrial, financial and social interests and a government apparently dedicated to elevating the standard of living of all its citizens.
Visas are required for both passengers and flight crewmembers entering Qatar and can be purchased on arrival, good for 30 days. Landing permits are also a necessity; however, sponsor letters are not. (See “City at a Glance” sidebar for other details.) Qatari ATC relies on standard ICAO procedures with QNH altimetry expressed in meters.
Getting to Qatar from the west or north has been complicated by the Syrian civil war, as it is not recommended that U.S.-registered aircraft enter (or even approach) Syrian airspace at this time. Up until the fighting began in Syria, the most common routings to the southern Persian Gulf from Europe or North America were across Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia or, alternately, Syria, Iraq and Iran. “For all intents and purposes, those routes are closed or at least aren't advised for general aviation,” an aviation manager who captains a long-range business jet told BCA. Additionally, the border between Turkey and Syria is being patrolled by Turkish military aircraft and is best avoided unless you like to see a fighter sitting off your wing with its landing gear down.
“Now you have to go west of Cyprus,” the aviation manager said, “down over Egypt onto a route south of Cairo that will take you over the Red Sea to an intersection named WEDJ; from there you go east across Saudi Arabia on Amber 145 to Bahrain and on to Doha. Unfortunately, that's 30 to 40 min. longer in each direction than going over Syria.” Before the fighting in Syria, the operator often made a tech stop at Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (LTFJ) in Istanbul. “It's on the Asian side of the Bosporus,” he explained, “easy to get in and out of, and you can do a complete turnaround there in less than an hour. From there, we'd then go over Aleppo, Syria, and Amman, Jordan, to the Persian Gulf.”