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Qatar signed €12bn worth of deals with France on Thursday, including for 12 Rafale fighter jets and 490 armoured vehicles.
“In total, it amounts to nearly €12bn which was signed today and which underlines the closeness of our relations,” Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, said at a press conference in Qatar, according to Reuters.
As part of the €12bn worth of contracts, Qatar — which is embargoed by other Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — exercised an option to buy a further 12 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation.
“One would normally expect options to be exercised unless the world goes badly not according plan,” said Harry Breach, an analyst with Raymond James.
Dassault had originally sold 24 fighers to Qatar in 2015 for a contract estimated to be in excess of €6bn.
One person with knowledge of the current deal put the value of the aircraft at close $1.1bn, while analysts noted that fighter deals are often based on the value of weaponry and servicing including in the contract.
Qatar has agreed an option for another 36 planes, according to the French government.
“This new agreement is built around the special relationship that exists between the two countries and the shared determination, by the Defense Ministry of Qatar and Dassault Aviation, to move forwards together”, said Eric Trappier, chairman and chief executive of Dassault Aviation.
“The additional tranche is a positive. This may have been envisioned in the original 2015 deal but a doubling of the quantity is positive news,” said Mr Breach.
Qatar also committed to buying 490 armoured vehicles from French defence company Nexter.
“Qatar’s choice of French industry reflects both the quality of our cooperation and the technological excellence of our companies. Exports are vital to our defense industry and the equipment of our armed forces. They contribute to the strategic autonomy and the influence of our country,” the French defence ministry said in a statement.
Others, however, were more cynical: “Qatar is pretty friendless at present, so they have got the Amex out and are going around buying friends,” said one sector specialist on condition of anonymity.
Outside of defence, Qatar was reported to have agreed a deal with Suez to dredge and clean its lagoon, a deal with Airbus to upgrade civilian planes, and a deal with French transport companies RATP and SNCF to build and run a metro in the Qatari capital of Doha.