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Qatar Duty Free Scoops Top Middle East Award

Doha, QATAR – Doha-based Qatar Duty Free Company has earned the top prize at the Middle East North Africa (MENA) travel awards beating fierce competition from regional rivals for running the best duty free operation in the region.

More than 300 companies from across the region’s hospitality and travel industry registered for the awards, with voting direct from travellers and the travel trade. The awards are carefully evaluated and inspected by independent auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Having been voted third last year, Qatar Duty Free Company has this year leapfrogged its regional neighbours Bahrain Duty Free and Dubai Duty Free to win top prize – the Platinum award for best duty free operator in the Middle East.

Qatar Duty Free assistant general manager Krishna Kumari picked up the award at a lavish gala awards dinner attended by more than 600 industry figures at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai.

Qatar Duty Free Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said the award was in recognition of the sheer dedication of staff at Qatar Duty Free in making the retail operation a huge success.

“This is a great achievement recognising years of hard work to make Qatar Duty Free a recognisable force in the duty free industry, both regionally and globally,” he said.

“The business has grown from strength to strength. We are selling many of the world’s leading brands across all sectors to provide passengers with an excellent shopping experience at highly competitive prices.”

The new-look Qatar Duty Free stocks more than 32,000 product lines ranging from perfumes, cosmetics, beverages and food to toys, jewellery and watches featuring leading international brand names such as Bulgari, Gucci and Chopard.

Qatar Duty Free, a subsidiary of award-winning Qatar Airways, has grown from strength to strength with significant increase in turnover and profitability year on year. Duty free turnover is projected to hit $70m during the current financial year, a significant jump from $40m achieved in the 2004/2005 trading period.

Earlier this year, Qatar Duty Free turned one lucky international traveller into its third instant millionaire through its money-spinning raffle draw at Doha International Airport.

Last year the company ramped up its presence in the departures and arrivals area at Doha International Airport. More than US$1m has been invested by Qatar Duty Free in refurbishing the existing shopping facilities in the departures area, which was completed late last year.

The airport saw the second phase of its expansion project take off with a refurbished arrivals area. Improvements at the airport are aimed at increasing passenger capacity from 3.5m to 6m passengers a year.

Work has already begun on the new $5.5bn Doha International Airport, a state-of-the-art facility that will be built on reclaimed land and opened in phases beginning in 2009. Initial capacity will be 12 million, increasing four-fold to around 50 million by the time the airport is fully operational in 2015.

The retail space operated by Qatar Duty Free at the new airport will be 7,000sqm – seven times larger than the existing shopping facilities at Doha International Airport. The new facilities, to include dedicated shops featuring brand names, will compete at the highest level with many of Qatar Duty Free’s regional and global rivals. Negotiations with suppliers have already begun for the new retail space.

The Qatar Airways group of companies includes Qatar Duty Free, Qatar Aviation Services, Qatar Aviation Catering Company, Qatar Airways Holidays, United Media International, Qatar Distribution Company and Doha International Airport.

The annual MENA awards are held to embrace the spirit of the hospitality sector, recognising facilities, customer service and success of the Middle East travel industry.

MENA Travel Awards received entries in 18 categories from many countries, including Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com

Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com

Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 4496956, Fax: +974 4620132
E-mail: qrmedia@qatarairways.com.qa

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