Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Emirates … Macron announces large orders, hopes for Rafale

Order harvest for the French multinationals in sight. Emmanuel Macron will take a brief tour of three Gulf states – the Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – on Friday and Saturday to speak to their leaders about the crises in the Middle East… but also to announce orders for tricolor companies, the Elysée reports. The fight against terrorism and Islamist radicalism, the crisis in Lebanon and the Libyan elections, among others, will be on the agenda of this trip, which is likely to be the last of the five-year term in these countries ahead of April’s presidential elections in France.

The sensitive issues of respect for human rights or the conditions for hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should also be mentioned. At the economic level, attention is paid to the possible announcement of an order for several dozen Rafale fighter jets by the Emirates, which already have around sixty French Mirage 2000. No information was given by the manufacturer Dassault or the Elysée.

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Emmanuel Macron will arrive in Dubai overnight from Thursday to Friday, the day after the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates on December 2, 1971. He will meet with their key leader, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyane (MBZ), with whom Elysée says he has a “close” relationship. France “has an old partnership” with the Emirates and this visit “will make it possible to strengthen it at political, strategic, defense, but also economic and cultural levels,” according to the Presidency.

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Emmanuel Macron, who is expected in Qatar at the end of the day, will meet the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani before arriving in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday morning, where he will conduct an “in-depth interview” with the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The French president will be one of the first Western leaders to meet the Riyadh strongman since the diplomatic crisis caused with many countries by the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, which has severely tarnished MBS’s image.

“It’s not about putting the young leader back in the saddle”, but “Arabia is an important player in the region” and “we cannot imagine an ambitious policy (in the Middle East) without engaging in a challenging dialogue “. Country, a member of the G20 and the most important economy in the region, argues the Elysée.

In this tour, Emmanuel Macron will be accompanied by ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian (foreign affairs), Bruno Le Maire (economy), Florence Parly (armies), Roselyne Bachelot (culture) and Franck Riester (foreign trade), heads of large corporations such as Airbus, Thales , Saffron, Air Liquide or EDF.

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