American Airlines and Doha-based Qatar Airways today announced a reciprocal frequent flyer program that will allow customers to apply loyalty points from each airline to the other.

The partnership strengthens a relationship established through the codeshare agreement the two airlines unveiled earlier this year, which includes joint marketing on 170 routes throughout the world.

For American, the deal is part of an effort to attract loyalty from a wider market, and the gulf states are a target for business and first-class travel amid an economic boom.

The timing is pegged on Qatar Airways’ expansion as a global presence. Next month it will join the oneworld alliance, whose member airlines operate 12.2% of global seat capacity. Qatar will be the first of the three major airlines based in the Gulf region to join a global airline alliance.

“In advance of Qatar Airways becoming an official oneworld member, we are strengthening our relationship beyond the codeshare launched earlier this year,” said Nina Green, a spokesperson for American Airlines.

Photo Credit: A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner lands at Le Bourget airport. Pascal Rossignol / Reuters