Manama: The opening of Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been delayed hours before the first inaugural Qatar Airways plane was scheduled to arrive at 12.20am.

The last-minute cancellation was reportedly due to the airport’s failure to meet the new safety and security standards set by the Civil Defence Department.

Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) Steering Committee, said in a statement that the new date for the opening of the airport would be announced within days, Qatari media reported.

“The NDIA Steering Committee commends the efforts of the Ministry of Interior represented by the Department of Civil Defence for their commitment to raising standards of safety and security in Qatar,” he said

“The Hamad International Airport project has been completed by a number of international contractors who have supervised the system-readiness of the airport and have already issued international certificates in the domain of safety and security,” he said in the statement.

The delay was the fourth since the first announcement that the new airport would be officially open, local Arabic daily Al Arab reported on Monday.

The airport was initially scheduled to start operations in 2010, but the opening was put off to November 18, 2011, a date that was also scrapped.

The new opening date was December 12, 2012 (12/12/12), but the inauguration was again delayed to April 1.

“We are now awaiting the fifth date for the opening and several Qataris have started asking about the end of this Mexican television drama series,” the daily said, referring to soap operas shown on Arab TV stations.

Qatar is emerging as a regional hub for international events and is set to host the football World Cup finals in 2022, prompting the authorities to push hard for massive development, construction and infrastructure projects to reshape the country.