(Bloomberg) -- The United Arab Emirates signed a long-delayed deal to buy 80 Rafale fighter jets from France during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the Gulf nation Friday.
The deal 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. France said the two contracts are worth more than 17 billion euros ($19 billion). The UAE’s Mubadala wealth fund also signed deals totaling another 10 billion euros during the trip.
Dassault Aviation shares jumped 9% to 91.75 euros at 10.09: a.m. in Paris, its biggest gain in more than a year. Thales SA, which provides missile guidance systems, was up 2.3%.
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.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian took part in previous discussions over the Rafale deal when he was defense minister under Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande.
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.
(Updates with value of contract in third paragraph)
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