The controversial $400 mln luxury jet from Tamim to Erdogan

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The Emir of Qatar has given one of the world’s largest and most expensive private jets to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani presented the Boeing 747-8, worth an estimated $400 million as a symbol of “Thani’s special love for Erdogan,” according to Turkey’s state-run broadcaster TRT.

The jet had landed at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from France on Thursday, after it was offered for sale.

It was among the Qatar’s Emiri Flight fleet with 76-metre, which makes it the longest passenger aircraft in the world.

While it could carry more than 460 passengers, it is now outfitted to carry only 76 passengers and 18 crew.

Its interior contains staterooms, boardrooms, and a hospital.

Russian President Putin meets with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan in Sochi. (Reuters)
Russian President Putin meets with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan in Sochi. (Reuters)

The gift resulted in an international debate over Qatar’s style in campaigning, building ties and Erdogan’s penchant for luxury, according to commentators.

However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the emir of Qatar gave the luxury jumbo jet as a “gift” to Turkey, rejecting opposition claims the plane had been bought in a costly purchase for the presidency.

In comments published Monday, Erdogan said Turkey had shown interest in buying the on-sale Boeing 747-8 plane but Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani insisted on offering the plane as a gift.

“We were interested. When the Qatar emir was informed of this he gave it as a gift, saying ‘I won’t take money from Turkey. I will give this plane as a gift’“ adding that it would be used for his trips.

However, lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said that Erdogan had bought the plane.

CHP MP Gamze Tascier said on Twitter that a sales official from a company based in Switzerland confirmed the sale of a Boeing 747-8 jet. “The company says it was sold, supporters say it was a gift,” she said on Thursday.

After Erdogan’s latest remarks, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu hit back at Erdogan and questioned his “honor” over the move to accept such a gift.

“How can it not cause you discomfort?” Kilicdaroglu said on Monday.

The CHP and Erdogan’s critics have repeatedly accused the Turkish strongman of having a penchant for luxury, notably in the vast new Ankara presidential palace that opened in 2014.

Erdogan however has hit back by saying that such facilities are national assets worthy of a state of Turkey’s importance.

The plane is also a new symbol of the close relationship between Doha and Ankara.

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