The “soft” opening of the Hamad International Airport (HIA) will take place in January next year, HE the Transport Minister Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti said yesterday.
Some flights will be operated from the new airport on a “trial” basis after the soft opening, the minister told journalists after inaugurating the three-day Qatar International Exhibition for Transport and Logistics at the Doha Exhibitions Centre.
Al-Sulaiti said the cargo complex at the new airport would be ready for opening on December 1.
“After that other halls will be opened in a phased manner,” he said, adding that a number of people were working round the clock now to finish different facilities at the new airport.
Speaking about the latest initiatives being made in the transport sector, the minister said tenders for the GCC rail link from Qatar would be floated in a few days. “A number of international companies which have executed similar projects elsewhere have evinced interest in the project.”
The minister said Qatar had been witnessing “a number of developments”  in its transport and infrastructure sectors and they would contribute significantly to the country’s growth in the next decade.
The exhibition, held under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, has attracted a number of business houses dealing in logistics, transport and heavy equipment from across the region.
The minister said that considering the growing importance of the transport sector, the government had made a “remarkably good allocation” for its increasing activities. “The exhibition will help entrepreneurs understand the requirements of the industry better and exhibitors will be able to exchange experience. It will help them overcome challenges in the transport sector like logistics, supply, service and procurement.”
To boost the activities in the logistics industry, several reforms have been put in place at different levels. The formation of the Qatar Freight Solutions Committee is one such initiative which, the minister said, would solve most of the issues being faced by importers at the Customs level.
Minister of Economy and Trade HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani and Qatar Association of Freight and Logistics president Ali bin Abdul Latif al-Misnad were present at the opening ceremony.
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the exhibition, al-Misnad said the logistics industry in Qatar had been growing at a phenomenal rate of about 12% and a similar level of growth was also being witnessed in the transport sector.