I was one of the first journalists to be shown around the new Doha International Airport terminal this week. Although still a hard-hat zone, the building is structurally complete with only fixtures and fittings to be installed before its planned opening on 12 December this year, symbolically 12/12/12.
Built on largely reclaimed land next to the existing airport, the so called NDIA is Qatar's attempt to create a hub to rival its Dubai counterpart Emirates and replace its somewhat cramped current home. With 42 gates coming off three concourses (although there are plans to build more) and capacity for initially 28 million passengers, the new airport is smaller than Dubai International, but architecturally even more impressive: the first, for example, to have an internal transit system, inside the terminal itself, rather than underneath it or circling around it.
Like Dubai International it has a hotel built into the terminal too, with 100 rooms. Check-in desks are coated in Italian marble. Next to the airport is an impressive royal and VVIP terminal. Two runways - one at 4,850m and the other at 4,250m - sit either side of the terminal and there are also large maintenance and cargo hangars, both of which will be operated by Qatar Airways.
Although Qatar Airways provides one of the best in-air experiences in the industry, even its chief executive Akbar Al Baker admits that its current on-ground facilities leave a lot to be desired. Although, the airline provides its premium passengers with their own sleek terminal, other passengers are split between two small terminals with a transit/departures zone joining the two airside.
As Qatar itself develops as a tourist and business destination, having an airport that matches the tiny country's ambitions to be a global powerhouse is also an important part of its national strategy. The new Doha International airport will surely fit that bill.