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Eurofighter Typhoon

Qatar has signed a letter of intent to buy 24 fighter jets from the UK, officials have announced.

The UK has been trying to sell Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to Qatar for years, but for many, this announcement was unexpected.

This is in part because Qataris had just agreed to spend up to $12 billion on F-15 fighter jets from the US this summer.

Ministry of Defense

Defense ministers Khalid Al Attiyah and Michael Fallon sign deal for fighter jets

It also purchased 24 Rafale planes from France in 2015, a deal thought to be worth $7.5 billion.

The agreement with the UK comes as Qatar tries to drum up international support amid an ongoing Gulf blockade.

It marks Qatar’s first big defense contract with the UK, and will keep the nation’s Typhoon project viable until at least 2019, the Telegraph reports.

GCC security

The purchase likely won’t be viewed favorably by Saudi Arabia, one of the combat jets’ biggest customers.

In a nod to this, UK Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon cited the security of “all Gulf countries” as being critical to own his nation’s security, adding:

“The UK and Qatar share mutual defense interests, including countering violent extremism, and ensuring peace and stability in the region.”

Qatar’s purchase should also help “increase security cooperation and interoperability” with other GCC Typhoon partners, he said in a statement.

Air show

The news comes just a few weeks before Qatar residents will be treated to a display of daring aerobatics when the Red Arrows visit Qatar as part of a Gulf tour.

This will be the Royal Air Force pilots’ first show in Qatar since 2013, when the UK also displayed its Typhoon over Doha.

Thoughts?

Fatimah Ashraf Khan/Flickr

Red Arrows flying over Doha in 2013

The world-famous Red Arrows will perform in Qatar in September as part of a Middle East tour, the British Ministry of Defence has announced.

Their visit comes amid efforts to strengthen the UK’s ties with nations across the Gulf.

The pilots last wowed crowds in Qatar with daring maneuvers and red, white and blue plumes of smoke in 2013. 

Teilhard Scott

The Red Arrows fly over Doha in 2013

Crowds gathered along the Corniche and at office windows in West Bay to witness the free show, which was followed by a demonstration of BAE’s Typhoon.

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

‘Open for business’

In addition to Qatar, the Royal Air Force Red Arrows will perform in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the display will help show the UK is “open for business” around the world.

He added:

“This historic Red Arrows tour will be a visible demonstration of UK engagement across the globe, flying the flag to promote Britain in important capitals through the GREAT campaign.”

Exact dates for the Gulf visits have yet to be announced.

Who’s excited? Thoughts?

Via @halawala

Pro-Qatar ad in London

Khaleeji visitors to the UK this summer will either be pleased or incensed to see that the Gulf dispute is spilling onto the streets of London.

Several London black cabs branded with messages supporting Qatar have been spotted around town this week.

In addition to the taxis, which often carry advertisements, tuk tuks with the Emir’s face and moving billboards urging an end to the blockade against Qatar have also been seen.

Many of the photos appear to have been taken in the Edgware Road area, a part of London popular among Gulf tourists.

No resolution

Most of the messages seem to be paid advertisements. However, some people have mistaken them as a show of Qatar solidarity from the UK.

It remains unclear who is footing the bill for the ads.

But they come at a time when the Gulf crisis remains at an impasse. This is despite intense mediation efforts by the US and Kuwait.

Thoughts?