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New dining facilities usher in the future of Al Udeid

  • Published
  • By 379th Expeditionary Air Wing Public Affairs
  • 379th Expeditionary Air Wing Public Affairs

The end of 2022 and early 2023 saw major changes in development at the largest Air Expeditionary Wing in the Middle East. On Dec. 27, the Pearl dining facility opened and on Jan. 26 the Falcon dining facility officially opened to serve meals to Air Force members, joint forces, coalition partners, and the civilian population on Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

The new dining facilities represent a significant quality of life improvement at Al Udeid. Their design provides a larger footprint, welcoming natural light, and enhanced capacity to support up to 500 meals every half hour.

The enhanced capacity at the new facilities allows members to receive fresh breakfasts and made-to-order grill items with shorter wait times. The new facilities also have large restrooms, automated bug control, and more exit doors to provide an improved experience. Expanded kitchen sizes and equipment allow progressive food preparation to ensure food is always freshly cooked.

The seating capacity at each facility is more than double that of the retired facilities, each seating 520 patrons, whereas the Independence DFAC, previously the largest on site, seated only 224.

The DFACs’ opening marks the completion of phase one of the Qatar Development of Al Udeid (QDA) program. In only a two month window, the entire dining experience at AUAB received a complete refresh. Three dining facilities were retired and two larger facilities opened.

Both of the new dining facilities garner their names from Qatari culture. The Falcon is the national bird of Qatar and pearls have a rich cultural history that traces back to tribes that fished pearls along the coasts.

"These investments in the physical infrastructure at Al Udeid Air Base reflect an enduring commitment to the close security partnership of Qatar and the United States,” said U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Timmy T. Davis. “The Qatar Emiri Corps of Engineers has done an exemplary job, which will aid our shared mission to ensure regional security."

Two dining facilities are just one aspect of the development required to evolve the presence of Al Udeid. Demolishing old lodging trailers from 2021-2022 and opening new dormitories improved the quality of life for Airmen, and also reduces housing costs.  

“The 2040 Master Plan outlines the facilities and infrastructure required to transform Al Udeid from a contingency base to an enduring location,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Anthony Figiera, 9 AF (AFCENT) PMO director. “It includes facilities to support current and projected future missions, infrastructure improvements to support expansion, and a phasing plan to develop the base deliberately to minimize impacts to current missions.”

The Independence “Indy”, Manhattan, and Blatchford-Preston Complex dining facilities were in service for a combined time of over 30 years, with millions of meals prepared for members.  Many Air Force members deployed to AUAB multiple times during their careers and fondly remember the camaraderie of holiday meals and break time at the retired facilities. Members who deployed to Al Udeid in 2022 and 2023 saw changes that were far removed from their earlier experiences when the base was more austere.

Final service at the BPC DFAC was at the end of 2022. The Independence and Manhattan served final meals in early 2023.