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First delivery of French-built Rafale jet fighter arrives in Qatar Open in fullscreen

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First delivery of French-built Rafale jet fighter arrives in Qatar

Rafales with Qatar's colours; the first of 36 Rafale multi-purpose jet fighters [Getty Images]

Date of publication: 6 February, 2019

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Qatar takes first of 36 Rafale fighter jets it has ordered from France, upping its defence after being diplomatically isolated by its Gulf neighbours.
The first of 36 Rafale multi-purpose jet fighters Qatar ordered from French manufacturer Dassault arrived on Wednesday.

The hand-over ceremony in Merignac, southwestern France, where the planes are built, was attended by Qatar Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah and Dassault Aviation chief Eric Trappier.

The French Minister of Defence Florence Parly awarded the Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah with the Order of the Legion of Honour on Wednesday during a visit to Paris.

Qatar ordered 24 of the fighters in 2015, adding 12 more last year. The 1.1-billion-euro ($1.3 billion) order, announced during an official visit by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, allows for an option to buy a further 36 jets.

The twin-engine fighter has been in service with the French Air Force since 2004. France has also sold Mirage F1, Alpha Jets and Mirage 2000 fighters to Qatar.

Qatar has upped its defence spending after being diplomatically isolated by its Gulf neighbours in an ongoing blockade. 

In June 2017, 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.

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