I flew back to Malaysia recently with Qatar Airways, which from Geneva flies to Doha and after 2 and half hour transit there continued to KLIA.
The flight to Doha took about 6 hours. Arriving at the the Doha International Airport, I observed that its a bit small, although a lot of earthworks and constructions around the airport did suggest that they are in the midst of expanding and upgrading it. Perhaps they are investing in a potential profitable business should oil runs out in the future.
I was somewhat surprised since there's a lot of recognizable Asian faces in the airport. Eavesdropping their conversation tells me that mostly they were from ASEAN countries.
Baguihnya dok gebang!
I noticed that a lot of the airport staff were of Indian origins. Come to think of it, there were not many Qataris working at the airport, but I might be wrong. (Perhaps friends of mine who are working in Doha could verify this). I knew that Qatar hosted many foreign workers but I did not imagine that its this many. The person at the duty free counter was from Indonesia, the airport security person was from India, the guy at the A&W restaurant was from Philippines, the cleaners were from Bangladesh, the stewardesses on my flight were from Turkey, Malaysia and Lebanon. It seems like none of the local people work there, or perhaps they only worked in management positions.
The facilities at Doha International Airport were quite good. Being a small airport I would expect worse. There was a quite room where travelers can catch some sleep while waiting for connecting flights, smokers room, surau and even a free 24 hour clinic.
The Doha Airport Duty Free shop. Thats about it. No more. And its expensive compared to to other airports duty free shops.
I was informed by one of the friendly airport staff I befriended that for passengers with a lot of time to kill, it is possible to book an excursion to Doha city. Since I don't have much time, I did not explore the possibility although I would love to do that since of all my years traveling, this is the first time I step foot in a Middle Eastern country.
One thing that was killing me at the Doha airport was the flight/ public announcers voice.They like to raise their already high pitched voice over the PA system when they did their announcing. And in what must be a secret competition among them, the next person who took over the microphone will try their very best to upstage the person before, resulting in almost a shouting match. Then there's the last call to board which were repeated endlessly. If it was meant for one person to get his/ her butt pronto to the aircraft, I would understand it perfectly. But surely not for every person on every departing flight? The last call, in my humble opinion, should be the last call and no more after that. Hearing names after names being repeated every other minute everywhere in the airport had sort of forcibly imprinted itself in my brain. Really, really irritating. I would think that this is the most appropriate kind of torture to be used to penalize criminals in prisons. Give them a day with the announcers here in Doha International Airport, and I am sure in no time, they will pull every single strand of their hair and screamed mercy. That's how irritating it was. When I arrived in KLIA later, hearing silky smooth and pleasant voice of the its announcers were a relief. It really did make a difference, especially after a long, tired and lenguh bontot flight.
Another thing I observed in Doha airport was that there were no money changer around. Not a single one. Its very difficult for me to change my Swiss Franc to buy some A&W snack for my children since all the shops at the airport did not accept it. In contrast, they accepted USD, Pound Sterling, Euros and even RM but Swiss Franc was a no. Finally, a nice guy at the A&W counter willingly accepts the tidak boleh diniagakan Swiss Franc and gave us the change in Qatari Riyal. (Note to self, Swiss Franc tak laku jugak kat sesetengah tempat!)
My family and I boarded our flight to KLIA right on time. Traveling with kids has it advantages, since we are among the first to board and skipped the staring down of the serious faces of the security people. After another seven hours of sore behind moments (the after effect of a broken tailbone), we arrived safely in Malaysia.
By the way, one of the names that was forever imprinted in my brain, courtesy of the announcers in Doha International Airport is Miss Graciana L. Herrera.
Miss Herrera was late boarding her flight to Madrid, Spain.