Qatar and Fincantieri have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that may see the Gulf country procure further naval vessels from the Italian firm.
In a statement on January 24, 2020, Fincantieri announced the signing of an MoU with Barzan Holding “aimed at strengthening their strategic partnership through the evaluation and studies of new technologies and capabilities, possibly leading to a future acquisition of new vessels already in 2020.”
Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono and Barzan Holding President Nasser al-Naimi took part in the signing, which was also attended by Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, along with senior members of the Qatari Navy.
Qatar is already procuring seven vessels – four corvettes, a landing platform dock, and two offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) – from Fincantieri, under an agreement worth EUR4 billion signed in 2016. Work on the first corvette began in 2018, while the first OPV was laid down last year. Deliveries of these should begin next year.
The memorandum in particular covers “the design, construction and management of the naval base, whole warship fleet management, the application of new technologies such as digital radar and cybersecurity, as well as the supply of cutting-edge naval vessels and submarines.”
Qatar’s apparent interest in submarine procurement is noteworthy, as it would become the first Gulf Arab state to acquire submarines. Iran, a rival to many Gulf Arab countries, has had submarines of various sizes in service for decades.