Qatar has launched into space the Sohail 1, its first television and communications satellite, carried into orbit by the European rocket Ariane 5 from a base in French Guiana, the companies promoting the project said.

The blastoff from a base in the coastal city of Koro put Sohail 1 into orbit close to the Arab satellite Arab Sat, according to the Qatari satellite company Es'hailSat.

Sohail 1, which will broadcast more than 30 high-definition and 70 standard channels, will go into service next December, after a three-month experimental phase.

Es'hailSat has carried out this project in collaboration with its European partner Eutelstat.

In a communique released Friday, Eutelstat CEO Michel de Rosen said the launch was a success and that the company will offer clients a quality service and strengthen its commitment to markets of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

For his part, the CEO of the Es'hailSat company, Ali bin Ahmed al Kauari, said that this satellite "will reinforce the services of communications, Internet and television transmission, since it will reach very remote areas."

The satellite, which weighs over 6 tons, will remain in service for 15 years. Within three years, Qatar plans to launch Sohail 2.

The project comes as part of a series of Qatari investments in the field of satellites and technology that will help this country have the extensive network it needs to broadcast the soccer World Cup it will host in 2020. EFE