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The New Arab

Qatar and France sign $1.3 billion fighter jet deal amid Gulf crisis

The contracts were inked in the presence of France's Macron and Qatar's Emir [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 December, 2017

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Qatar's latest purchase of military and commercial aircraft could help Qatar make more use of its planes after its operations were disrupted by a blockade from four Arab nations.

Qatar announced a deal to buy 12 French-built Rafale fighter jets on Thursday, as it faces a boycott by neighbouring Gulf states in the region's worst political crisis in years.

The 1.1-billion-euro ($1.3 billion) order, announced during an official visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, allows for an option to buy a further 36 jets.

It comes on top of a 2015 agreement on the purchase of 24 Dassault Aviation-built Rafale warplanes.

Also on Thursday, Qatar Airways announced a 5.5-billion-euro ($6.4 billion) deal to buy 50 Airbus A321 planes, with an option for 36 more.

The two countries also signed a three-billion-euro ($3.5 billion) deal on the operation and maintenance of the Doha Metro, currently being built as the country prepares for the football World Cup in 2022.

The contracts were inked in the presence of Macron and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Qatar also signed a letter of intent for the purchase of 490 VBCI armoured vehicles from Nexter, a French-government owned weapons manufacturer, in a potential deal worth 1.5 billion euros, the Elysee said.

The deal could help Qatar make more use of its planes after its operations were disrupted by a blockade from four Arab nations.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia and allied states cut all ties with Qatar, closing its only land border, banning planes from their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from passing through their airports.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, together with Egypt, accuse the gas-rich emirate of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to Shia Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival. Qatar denies the allegations.

After cutting off all ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands to have it lifted. 

The list of demands included shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

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