France has announced the signing of a $ 25.6 billion mega-arms contract for the sale of 80 of its Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.
- The biggest arms contract ever signed by France was announced during Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the United Arab Emirates
- Deal follows failed $ 93 billion contract for Australia to purchase 12 French submarines
- France has close ties with the United Arab Emirates
France’s defense ministry said the deal was France’s biggest arms deal ever for export.
The deal offers a boost to the French defense industry after a failed $ 93 billion contract for Australia to purchase 12 French submarines.
French President Emmanuel Macron is in the Emirates for the first leg of a two-day visit to the Persian Gulf.
There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from Emirati officials.
Manufacturer Dassault Aviation has said the UAE is purchasing the improved F4 version of its multi-purpose fighter.
This will make the Emirates Air Force the first user of the Rafale F4 outside of France, he said.
Dassault Aviation boss Eric Trappier called the sale a “French success story” and “excellent news for France and its aeronautics industry”.
Mr Macron’s keen interest in forging personal relationships with leaders such as Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Mohamed bin Salman Al Saud, makes him a guest welcome to the region.
However, human rights groups criticized the two countries for their human rights violations.
France maintains close ties with the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhs from the Arabian Peninsula, especially since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
France opened a naval base in 2009 at Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi.
French fighter jets and personnel are also stationed at Al-Dhafra Air Base, a major facility outside the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, which is also home to several thousand US troops.
A few months after Mr Macron’s election in 2017, he traveled to the United Arab Emirates to inaugurate the Louvre Abu Dhabi, built under a $ 1.7 billion deal to share the name and l world famous museum art in Paris.
In September, Mr Macron welcomed the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to the historic Fontainebleau Castle outside Paris, which was restored in 2019 with a donation from the United Arab Emirates of $ 16 million.
The United Arab Emirates and France have increasingly aligned themselves with a common distrust of Islamist political parties in the Middle East and have supported the same camp in the civil war in Libya.