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All photos by Ray Toh

Plumes of red, white and blue smoke and the whooshing sounds of nine Hawk fast-jets filled Qatar’s skies yesterday, as the UK’s Red Arrows performed over the Corniche.

The pilots represent the public face of the UK’s Royal Air Force.

They returned to Doha for the first time in four years as part of a Gulf tour that aims to strengthen trade ties between countries.

According to the UK Embassy in Doha, the jets sometimes flew as close as six feet apart at more than 400 miles per hour during the 20-minute show.

Qatar Airways also got in on the action, with one of its Airbus 350s flying with the jets after the official show to mark the airline’s 20th anniversary.

In a statement, Ambassador Ajay Sharma said:

“I am delighted to have been able to welcome the Red Arrows to Qatar. Such visits are a very visible demonstration and celebration of the strength of UK-Qatar relations. They showcase the best of the UK from the technical mastery of the pilots to the excellence of our engineering and aviation industry.”

Online reaction

Thousands of Qatar residents flocked outside to check out the display. Here’s some of what the saw:

Did you catch the show? Thoughts?

Supplied

Supercars clamped outside Harrods

Drivers with Qatar license plates are the second worst offenders worldwide when it comes to unpaid parking fines racked up in central London.

This week, London’s Westminster City Council released a list of the top 10 countries whose nationals owe the largest amounts.

The worst offending foreign drivers are apparently from France. They owe a collective £356,000 (QR 1.76m) in outstanding fees.

Qatar came second on the list, with a whopping £191,105 (QR944,834) still owed to the central London district, home of Buckingham Palace and myriad other landmarks.

Westminster City Council

Qatar is second in the global rankings

Meanwhile, the UAE came third, with unpaid fines totaling £116,030 (QR577,540).

GCC countries

Westminster City Council said in a statement that this year’s top 10 ranking contained more Middle Eastern countries than ever before.

Saudi Arabia entered the list this year for the first time in eighth place, and Kuwait is also on the list, in ninth.

Mark Holloway / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only

They edged out countries who’d previously featured prominently in the rankings, including Switzerland, the US, Italy and Luxembourg.

Qatar came third in last year’s rankings after France and Germany, with total fines of £114,605 (QR570,439).

International cooperation

Westminster City Council said that it has been difficult to contact vehicle owners abroad to collect the fees.

It has asked the British government for help in establishing a system of international cooperation to allow local authorities to trace foreign motorists.

It added that it was constantly working with foreign embassies and governments to persuade their nationals to pay their dues.

Martyn Lucy / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

It also said that it was in the “early stages” of trialling a process of obtaining a judgment in the UK against foreign persistent evaders, with the potential to transfer proceedings abroad.

Danny Chalkley, Cabinet Member for City Highways at Westminster Council, said that while visitors from abroad are welcomed, they should pay up for breaking the rules:

“Drivers who park irresponsibly are a nuisance for our residents and visitors alike. This should be a reminder that a foreign number plate does not give you immunity from the law,” he said.

Thoughts?

British Embassy in Qatar

Red Arrows in Qatar in 2013

Updated with timing of the performance

The world-famous Red Arrows will fly over Qatar’s Corniche on Sept. 30 at 4:30pm, the British Embassy in Doha has announced.

This will be the first time in four years that the Royal Air Force will perform in Qatar.

At that time, the UK had been trying to sell the fighter jets to the government.

Clément Alloing / Flickr

A Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon

But this upcoming visit comes shortly after Qatar agreed to buy 24 Typhoons from the UK, a deal worth billions of riyals.

The Red Arrows will also head to all the other Gulf countries in the coming weeks, to help show that the UK is “open for business” around the world, the nation’s defense minister previously said.

Thoughts?