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French president starts 2-day Gulf tour

French president starts 2-day Gulf tour
UAE to purchase 80 French Rafale F4 warplanes

By Asia Ibrahim

ISTANBUL (AA) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday started an official two-day Gulf tour that includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar.

The French state-run news channel France 24 said that Macron arrived in Dubai before heading to Qatar late on Friday, adding that he is scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

It also said Macron will meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

France 24 quoted two unnamed sources as saying Paris will sign a number of agreements with Abu Dhabi, including a possible multi-billion dollar deal for purchasing 80 French Rafale warplanes.

The Dassault company -- the Rafale warplanes manufacturer -- confirmed in a statement that the UAE will acquire 80 Rafale F4 jet fighters.

Dassault said the UAE will be "the first user outside France" of the Rafale F4.

Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, said there will be a signing of deals during Macron's visit to the UAE. He did not give details.

According to a report presented to the French parliament, the UAE was the fifth biggest customer of the French defense industry with €4.7 billion ($5.3 billion) between 2011-2020.

In 2019, Qatar received 36 Rafale fighter jets after signing a deal with Dassault in May 2015.

On Saudi Arabia's visit, France 24 cited the French Presidency as saying the Kingdom is a key player in the region and there was need to hold a deep dialogue.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar in Ankara

source: News Feed
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