First, there are the numbers, of course – and they are impressive: 40,000 square meters of duty-free and F&B space (due to double as the airport expansion gets underway); 90 luxury and lifestyle retail outlets (174 by the end of 2022); 30 fine dining restaurants and cafés (70 before the end of the year); 58 million (60 million post-FIFA World Cup) passengers per year, it goes on and on.
But Qatar Duty Free (QDF), FTA Prize 2022’s Diamond Sponsor, is way more than just numbers. It’s a life experience where all your senses are constantly tingling. At first, you’ll feel somehow lost, you’ll be so spoiled for choice: You want to go everywhere, taste everything, try everything. Because it all reaches out to you at Hamad International Airport. Recently named the World’s Best Airport 2022 by Skytrax for the second year in a row, it is no more a stopover, it’s a destination, unknown territory, and you, well, you will feel as if you’re an explorer, charting unvisited spaces.
Let us be very clear: Whatever your age, size, purchasing power, diet (if you’re on Keto, it’s paradise), religious beliefs or fashion style, you will find happiness with what QDF has to offer. A tiny sample says it all: Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Fendi, Hermès, Loro Piana, Tiffany & Co and Valentino are all there, among many others. QDF also features its own multi-brand concept shops, including a new beauty concept store and a multi-brand men’s fashion concept, Q-Denim.
A bit of history
Across 2021 and 2022, QDF continued to grow their retail portfolio, opening more than one new outlet per month. The ongoing redevelopment resulted in a significant uplift in revenue per passenger for the year 2021, in excess of 60% when compared to 2019.
Last year featured multiple outstanding achievements, such as the launch of Viale Del Lusso, a premium fashion avenue including several global and regional firsts such as the first Valentino airport boutique in the Middle East and the first Emporio Armani Ristorante and Emporio Armani Caffe in an airport, along with the arrival of Dolce & Gabbanna, Fendi, Jimmy Choo and Pucci.
QDF continued its investments in 2022 with the opening of the first new concept Victoria’s Secret boutique in travel retail earlier this year. And in May 2022, QDF introduced the Watch Room, a new concept in the luxury shopping and dining zone, which features a collection of watches from leading brands.
QDF has also successfully completed the remodeling of the perfumes and cosmetics store, which now features a stunning collection of travel-retail exclusives including the first Christian Louboutin P&C podium in an airport, the first Fenty Beauty podium in an airport worldwide, the only Pat McGrath Labs booth in an airport, the first podium for Fresh beauty and skincare in the region in travel-retail, and its home to many more world-renowned beauty brands in the travel-retail industry.
And, last but not least, to set the stage for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, QDF also launched a Sports Store featuring ready to wear sports attire, shoes and accessories from world-leading sport brands and a FIFA store with a wide range of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 collectables – including the Adidas Official Match Ball – all of which are available to fans leaving Qatar following the tournament as well as to passengers transiting through HIA.
PULSE TALKED TO THABET MUSLEH, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF QATAR DUTY FREE TO DISCOVER MORE. HERE IS WHAT HE HAS TO SAY.
What is, in your opinion, the DNA of a perfect Duty Free area?
Perfection is unrealistic, especially in a fast-changing industry like travel retail. The key to the success of our business is our adaptability, flexibility, and ability to follow the trend and to constantly change. What works in the market today might not be relevant tomorrow. So I can say that there isn’t a rule book for being a perfect Duty Free. Our fluidity, innovativeness and constant ability to change have allowed us to grow stronger as a business and as leaders in the travel retail industry.
Innovation, creativity and excellence are definitely the mottos of QDF. How far will you go in introducing world firsts to your customers? And what are you most proud of?
We will continue going to great lengths in bringing world firsts and exclusives to our customers as we are fortunate to work with the world’s biggest retail and F&B brands. The uniquely collaborative structure of our Airport Group means we achieve things with a speed and ease that others find impossible. Experience is key, and bringing unforgettable experiences to customers makes us unique. It is what makes us Qatar Duty Free.
Your retail space has increased from 90 outlets to more than 175 shops. Is luxury fashion the key word here? Will QDF be the ultimate high end shopping hub, not only in the MENA region, but in the world?
Qatar Duty Free is the ultimate shopping hub and shopping window for everyone. Whether it’s within our current terminal or the brand new terminal, our luxury offer is unparalleled. We have fine-dining, spectacular shopping, rare ways to relax and are the launch pad for experiences not found anywhere else. No airport in the world matches our luxury offer today. However, Qatar Duty Free is not just about luxury. Luxury is only a small part of the QDF offering. Qatar Duty Free also demonstrates an extensive retail offer and experience for every passenger travelling or transiting through Hamad International Airport.
Why did you choose to support emerging Arab talents through Fashion Trust Arabia? Will QDF open a space dedicated to Arab fashion designers from all over the MENA region, from Morocco to Oman, and set an example to other Arab Duty Frees?
Our partnership with Fashion Trust Arabia is an opportunity to bring attention to emerging designers and artists in the MENA region. As a world-leading retailer and key player in the fashion industry, we are proud to support an initiative that sheds light on the astonishing depth of talent among designers and fashion creatives in the Arab world. Through our support of FTA, we want to prove to the world that Arab designers are here and that they can be enormously impactful to the fashion industry.