Qatar’s Defence Ministry has awarded Italy’s Fincantieri a $4bn contract to build seven surface vessels for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces.

The vessels include four corvettes, which are the smaller version of frigates, one amphibious landing platform dock and two offshore patrol vessels. The contract also includes a 15-year support services contract following the delivery of the naval ships.

Construction of the ships will commence in 2018 at Fincantieri’s shipyards in Italy. The vessels will be deployed for maritime surveillance and patrolling duties in Qatar’s territorial waters and in the exclusive economic zone.

As earlier reported, Leonardo-Finmeccanica will supply Fincantieri with the latest generation of naval combat system, main radars and on-board sensors for the new ships.

Qatar has been focusing on defence spending in recent months to boost border security against any potential threats, promote the state as a safe destination for foreign investment, and to bolster national security ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

The state signed multiple agreements worth an estimated $8.9bn with mostly international defence suppliers earlier this year.

Of these, about 85 per cent, or $7.6bn, was accounted for by an order for 24 Rafale combat aircraft, which was initially announced in early 2015.