'Out of area' in a NATO context means general patrolling, unlike say being optimised for anti-sub warfare, so ideal for the Saudis as these vessels are in effect large patrol boats.
I wonder if the crew of the USS Stark still has 'no faith in French naval technology', (the ship was hit by AM-39 Exocet missiles fired from an Iraqi Mirage F1 in 1987).
And unlike the RN in the Falklands war, the US ship had a Phanlax radar guided gun, (which the RN brought after the 1982 conflict).
If the US vessel had been out at sea rather than in the Gulf, near a port, probably it would have sunk.
The new French carrier seems to have been fixed, they certainly need a second one though.
The airgroup is made up of the new Rafale aircraft, later two-seat attack optimised versions will replace the remaining Super Etendards, the carrier also carries E-2C Hawkeys for AEW, and helicopters.
From 2012, the RN will get back in the big carrier business, when the CVF 1 is commissioned, the airgroup will be 24 - 48 F-35Bs, plus 6-12 helicopters for ASW/SAR/AEW. (Though a VSTOL ship, it will have provision for catapult/arrester wire fitment, so E-2C may yet be ordered).
A second will follow in 2015. Orders for both ships will be expected early next year, they will displace 60,000 tons.
It will interesting to see if 'steathly' features will be a part of CVF design, artists impressions seen to indicate they will-but not easy to make a ship of this size a low-observable.