Don’t let the office towers and looping freeways mislead you into thinking Riyadh is your run-of-the-mill urban metropolis. While the gleaming skyscrapers and multilane highways may look typical, interspersed spires, minarets and domes betray procedures and customs different from those in most other parts of the world. Saudi Arabia’s largest city is a thriving business center built around a strait-laced society in which Islamic beliefs are the law: Women and men don’t comingle in public, alcohol is banned, only men are allowed to drive, and public floggings and executions are not uncommon.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
For newcomers to Saudi Arabia, culture shock is inevitable. It’s just a question of how soon it will strike. Maybe it will happen the instant you arrive at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, entering a terminal that resembles a vast Bedouin tent rendered in stone and marble.