As the sun sets on the 29th day of Ramadan, Doha residents are out looking for the moon to determine whether Eid al-Fitr will begin on Monday or Tuesday.
Officials from Qatar’s Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) are meeting at their Dafna headquarters to receive witness testimony and make their ruling.
We’ll update you here as…
All photos by Chantelle D’mello
With Eid al-Fitr almost here and summer travel picking up the pace, Qatar’s new airport appears to be handling the holiday exodus smoothly so far.
During a visit to Hamad International Airport this morning, a buzz of activity could be observed as many passengers queued up to check in for their flights.
But wait times were not high, and due to the larger space compared to the former Doha International Airport, congestion was minimal.
Speaking to Doha News, one airport staffer said:
“It does get much more crowded around Eid, with people leaving or visiting relatives here, but I don’t think we’re noticing it as much because we have such a huge airport this time around. Things seem to be going fine.”
She added that the most crowded times are around between 5 to 7:30am and 5 to 9 pm.
The smooth process this year stands in stark contrast to the experience of travelers last Eid, when passengers were advised to turn up some four hours early during peak travel times.
At that time, during Eid al-Adha in October, traffic snarls to DIA’s terminals forced many passengers to abandon their taxis and walk with luggage to make it to their flights on time.
Construction also exacerbate congestion then, as several diversions caused traffic overflow onto the roads leading to the airport.
To accommodate the expected increase in travelers, HIA has opened some 16 web self-service check-in stations, where passengers can check into their flight up to 36 hours prior to departure.
Numerous passengers were seen avoiding the lines at the manual check-in stations in favor of self-check-in, which takes around 10 minutes to complete.
After completing the process, passengers queued up to drop their luggage at dedicated stations nearby.
However, as this is a new feature, many travelers unfamiliar with it still seemed to prefer checking in with an attendant, despite the extended waiting period, said the staffer.
Elsewhere, passengers were seated, waiting for their bays to open, or buying magazines and foodstuff from the HIA’s store, and the 24 Seven downstairs.
Jamocha Cafe, however, still remained closed due to Ramadan restrictions on eating and drinking publicly during the daylight hours.
For those driving to the new airport, paid short-term parking spaces are available, with cars being allowed for a maximum of 15 days.
The first 30 minutes is free, after which a fee of QR5/hour is charged.
Free long-term parking is also available for residents who wish to leave their car in a shaded parking space.
While considerably filled, the long-term parking lot still had several open spaces this morning.
Are you traveling this Eid holiday? What has your HIA experience been like?
Hamad International Airport’s first Eid holiday off to a smooth start All photos by Chantelle D’mello With Eid al-Fitr almost here and summer travel picking up the pace, Qatar’s new airport appears to be handling the holiday exodus smoothly so far.
The Qatar Postal Services Company (Q-Post) has announced plans to move one of its branches from the heart of old downtown Doha near Musheireb to C-Ring Road.
The closure of the Abdul Aziz bin Ahmed Street office will be effective Aug. 3, following the Eid al-Fitr holidays.
No reason was given for the relocation, but the branch closure comes as much of the old downtown area around…
Qatar has retained its spot at the most advanced nation in the region, ranking 31st out of nearly 200 countries for the second year in a row, according to the United Nation’s 2014 Human Development Report (HDR).
Qatar ranked highly in terms of the main criteria – including average life expectancy at birth (78.4 years), education opportunities and gross national income (GNI) per capita…
All photos by Chantelle D’mello
For the Al Saida Bakery and Stores in downtown Musherib, this Ramadan – like so many others – has been a month of abundance.
While the majority of the country fasted and enjoyed abbreviated working hours for the past several weeks, the bakers at Al Saida have been working at top speed to prepare hundreds of their famed kataif pancakes for hungry customers daily.
Kataif, a pancake-like dessert that consists of flour, water and other ingredients, has been a local Ramadan staple since the bakery opened 56 years ago.
To keep up with the massive demand, Al Saida bakers start preparing the kataif at 7am, continuing to produce a steady flow of piping hot mini pancakes until late evening.
Speaking to Doha News, Samer Maqsoud, a business partner at Al Saida and relative of the owner, said:
“We are known for our kataifs. Aside from our direct customers, around 80 percent of sweet shops in Doha sell our kataifs. During the year, we take orders for kataif twice a week – Mondays, and Thursdays, but in Ramadan, because it is a traditional sweet, we make them every day.”
All in the family
The bakery is a family business. First opened in Doha by the late Mahmoud Ahmed Al Nadaf, a Lebanese expat, the bakery is now owned by his brother-in-law and nephew, Abdullatif Al Nadaf.
The elderly man, who is nostalgic and incredibly energetic, is a regular at the open-air kitchen, set up especially to make kataifs outside the bakery.
“For him, this is his pleasure. We come out sometimes, and he’s here in the heat serving customers. As long as he sees a smile on their face, it makes his day,” said Mohammed Khalil, an employee at the bakery.
For Al Nadaf, Qatar is home.
“We came here when there was no AC, nothing. All we had was fans,” said Al Nadaf, gesturing to the roof. “We watched (Qatar) grow.”
While a part of Qatari society and history, the Al Saida bakery has its roots in Lebanon, where the shop was handed down from generation to generation.
The shop takes its name from Saida, the third largest city in Lebanon, and one of the oldest cities in the world.
Aside from kataifs and other Arabic sweets, the bakery also operates as a grocery store and wholesale supplier, specializing in dry foods like lentils and beans, spices and dairy products that aren’t found locally.
The store also imports olives and olive oil from Lebanon.
“We try to ensure maximum quality,” said Maqsoud, who handles the supply business side of Al Saida. “We bring in great tasting goods from suppliers who have worked with us for hundreds of years.”
Among them is a Czechoslovakian dairy facility that produces a specific type of akkawi cheese used as filling for the kataif.
According to Maqsoud, Al Saida also supplies Czech cheese, Lebanese lentils and olive oil to over 70 hotels in Qatar.
“I think it’s the first store of it’s kind in Qatar, where we have a bakery, a grocery, and a wholesale supplier all in one,” he added.
The store also imports products from Syria and Palestine, but the ongoing conflicts there have made the process difficult.
“We sell our goods at a higher price, but that’s because of the quality of our ingredients and….the trouble involved in getting it delivered and made. After the Arab Spring, things got hard. It’s a lot more labour-intensive to get these goods imported,” Khalil said.
By the numbers
However, the kataifs are still the bakery’s main selling point, drawing over 500 customers daily.
On an average, the bakery sells from 500 to 800kg of the pancakes every day.
They are either sold plain, to be filled at home by the customer, or freshly prepared with a filling of nuts, coconut shavings, or cheese. They are then baked or fried.
The process includes creating a watery batter, which is placed in a large metal bowl by the side of the cooking station outside the bakery.
While the ingredients of the batter are a well-kept family secret, they do include a special blend of two flours imported from Lebanon, and a mineral-infused version of local water.
The batter is then spooned into a canister with an attached funnel, and then poured rapidly on large rectangular hot plates, where the kataif are only cooked on one side for a few minutes.
When ready, they are transferred off the stove with a spatula.
Once done, they are set aside or in boxes for eager customers waiting in the cars, or outside the store.
According to Al Nadaf, the kataif stay fresh for more than 24 hours. “But if you freeze them, they can stay for up to four months,” he added.
Thoughts?PHOTOS: Kataif at Al Saida Bakery sell like hotcakes All photos by Chantelle D’mello For the Al Saida Bakery and Stores in downtown Musherib, this Ramadan - like so many others - has been a month of abundance.
In response to demand for an online shopping and delivery service, Lulu Hypermarkets has partnered with Qatar Foundation (QF) to launch a trial version of the idea.
No timeline has been given for the start of this new service, which will initially limited to the QF community, the foundation announced in a statement.
The groceries will come from Lulu’s Express store, located near staff housing,…
The Moon Sighting Committee of the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) has requested that Muslims in Qatar look to the sky on Sunday after sunset to try to spot the new moon, QNA reports.
Tomorrow is the 29th of Ramadan, and the sighting of the crescent would signify the beginning of the month of Shawwal – and the first day of Eid al-Fitr.
After looking for the moon, Awqaf will…
Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal has put up a new diversion on Airport Road (Al Matar Street) for drivers heading to Doha from Al Wakrah.
The diversion, which came into effect on Thursday, lies at the junction with F-Ring Road, which has been under construction since 2011 and aims to increase connectivity in the south of Doha – including to the new Hamad International Airport.