The ships are at least 107 meters long and 14.70 wide with the ability to carry 112 persons on board and hold one NH90 helicopter.
Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has delivered the second Al Zubarah-class corvette to Qatar, ‘Damsah’ on Thursday.
Damsah is one of four vessels ordered by Qatar’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) under a 2017 deal worth more than $5 billion. The agreement included four corvettes, one amphibious vessel, and two off shore patrol vessels.
The building process of the ships started in 2018.
“The Al Zubarah-class vessels will be highly flexible and capable of fulfilling different kinds of tasks, from surveillance with sea rescue capacities to being fighting vessels,” said the Italian company.
The ships are at least 107 meters long and 14.7 meters wide with the ability to carry 112 persons on board and hold one NH90 helicopter. Fincantieri also said that the corvettes have the capability operating high-speed boats such as RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat).
Last month, Fincantieri launched the fourth Zubarah Class corvette for Qatar, “Sumaysimah”, which is also under the major deal that Qatar signed with Italy.
The mega deal between the two countries come as Qatar expands its navy and its ties with Italy, which is amongst its most important international partners in the industry.
In 2017, Fincantieri had agreed to established a branch in Doha as a subsidiary licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre. The branch’s presence in Qatar was seen crucial to ensure that the Italian company can easily provide logistical support in the design and construction process of the Italian ships at home.
In January, Qatar reportedly purchased six Leonardo M-346 jet trainers as part of a 2020 defence deal.
The Gulf state started building up the Qatar Armed Forces in 1971 when it declared independence from Great Britain.
By 1992, Qatar’s limited defence resources witnessed a significant expansion, when its total number of soldiers reached 7,500. A total of 700 were part of the navy forces out of the total number of personnel it had at the time.
The Qatar Emiri Naval Forces (QENF) personnel then reached 2,500 comprising of coast guards, marine police, and coastal artillery by 2022.
Qatar’s army including the Amiri Guard has reached 12,000 personnel, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ ‘The Military Balance’ 2022 report.
The country’s military expansion was also highlighted in the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)‘s latest report. The research found that Qatar’s military spending reached $11.6 billion last year, making it one of the top spenders in the Arab world.
Qatar’s military expenditure last year was 434% higher than what it was in 2010, the last time such data was released by the Gulf state. In total, Qatar had spent 4.8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on the military.
A separate SIPRI report from 2021 on arms sales revealed that Qatar’s imports saw a 361% increase from 2016 to 2020.
The institute suggested the increase of arms transactions was possibly linked to heightened regional tensions at the time of the 2017 GCC crisis.