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The United Arab Emirates agreed to buy 80 Rafale fighter jets from France as part of a 17 billion-euro ($19 billion) deal signed during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the Gulf nation Friday.

The long-delayed accord was announced in a statement from the French presidency following a meeting between Macron and the UAE’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, known as MBZ, on the sidelines of the Dubai Expo.

As well as the fighters produced by Dassault Aviation SA, the UAE is also buying 12 Caracal military helicopters from Airbus SE. The UAE’s Mubadala wealth fund signed separate deals totaling another 10 billion euros during the trip.

Dassault Aviation shares jumped as much as 10.5% in Paris, the most in more than a year. Thales, which provides missile guidance systems, rose as much as 3.7%.

Discussions between Paris and Abu Dhabi over the fighter jets have dragged on for more than a decade but the negotiations were given new impetus by the UAE’s doubts over buying more F-35 fighters from the U.S., according to officials involved in the negotiation. The Emiratis have frequently told their U.S. counterparts that they prefer to buy American hardware but Washington puts so many restrictions on their use that they also need other suppliers.

France and the UAE share common interests in the Middle East and beyond. They both supported military commander Khalifa Haftar in Libya, who is influential in the oil-rich east.

The UAE and France have also sided with Greece in its dispute with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean over gas exploration and sovereignty. While the UAE has moved to patch up relations with Turkey this is likely to remain a sticking point and shared concern.

Dassault Aviation struggled for years to gain traction with foreign buyers for its twin-engined fighter jet. The plane entered service in the French military in 2004 but the first export contracts with Egypt and Qatar were only signed in 2015. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian took part in previous discussions with the UAE over the Rafale deal when he was defense minister under Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande.

Its competition includes the Eurofighter Typhoon from Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-16.

Friday’s deal caps a winning streak for Dassault after agreements with Greece, Croatia and an add-on order with Egypt earlier in 2021. With past orders from Qatar and India, Dassault now has an export tally of 236 jets, according to the company. The UAE sale is the biggest by far.

The deal is likely to offer a boost to Macron ahead of April’s presidential election. MBZ previously met with Macron in September at the Fontainebleau castle near Paris. This is Macron’s second visit to the UAE as president.

French companies including Engie, Electricite de France, TotalEnergies SE et Technip Energies signed contracts and accords worth 6 billion euros during the trip, according to a finance ministry statement.


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