Qatari-French relations have always been characterised by strength and excellence, as recent years have witnessed a remarkable development in the expansion of economic co-operation through the establishment of joint projects and the exchange of experiences, as well as co-ordination in the political field to serve the two countries and all security and peace-loving people.
This momentum in the relations between the two countries is also reflected in many agreements of co-operation and partnership in various political, economic, military, security, trade, cultural, scientific, medical, artistic and sports fields.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Qatar yesterday, which is the first after taking office in June, strengthens the ongoing co-operation between the two countries.
His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani met the French president during his one-day visit to Qatar.
This is the second meeting after the Qatari-French summit held at the Elysee Palace during the Emir’s visit to Paris in mid-September.
French ambassador to Qatar Eric Chevallier has affirmed on more than one occasion that the bilateral relations between the two countries are excellent and cover several political, diplomatic, cultural, scientific, sports, security, economic and trade issues, stressing that the two countries’ deep relations are important because they are strategic and return to the beginning of the eighties of the last century.
Qatar is a strategic ally of France in the Middle East region, where regular consultations are held on major regional and international issues, the ambassador said, adding that also defence relations between France and Qatar are excellent, referring to the joint military trainings which are being held on a regular basis.
The ambassador also referred to the two-day joint maritime exercise between Qatari Emiri Naval Forces and its French counterpart in the Qatari territorial waters in last September, preceded by a joint military naval exercise in Qatar’s northern territorial waters, within the framework of bilateral defence co-operation agreements to support efforts to combat terrorism and smuggling operations and maintain security and stability in the region.
Qatar has signed a number of different agreements with France, covering all areas of economic, political, cultural, scientific, academic and technical, as well as the military agreements. The countries are tied in a strategic dialogue protocol, where discussion over different matters of importance to the two capitals are taking place regularly.
Qatar and France have many common views on different political issues, which have enhanced the relations between the two countries to the level of the strategic relations. Qatar helped France in resolving many issues and crises - in Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Mauritania, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and the Comoros. The co-operation between Qatar and France, contributed to supporting the democratic process during the Arab spring.
Qatar has made a lot of investments in France in several fields such as real estate, sports and information sectors, as well as participated in many of the French institutions.
On the other hand, France also made a lot of investments in Qatar in the field of oil gas and, as well as investments in the field of infrastructure, especially large construction projects in light of the international sports events that will be held in Qatar such as 2022 FIFA World Cup as well as the exchanges in the sectors of economy and trade, aviation, as well as the military and security fields.
In addition to all that, the two countries have close ties in terms of education, where some major French institutes and schools, opened branches in Qatar, such as HEC Paris economic institution, as well as two high schools, Voltaire and Napoleon Bonaparte. The co-operation in this area has led to the initiation of discussions on the opening of a branch of Saint-Cyr Military Academy.
Qatar is one of France’s leading trading partners in the Gulf region, and this position is being strengthened from year to year. France is the seventh economic partner of Qatar, which is one of the most important investors in the French economy.
Trade relations between Qatar and France witnessed a big boom last year; bilateral trade doubled and the value of contracts signed by French companies in Qatar reached about $8bn.
Qatar is also a destination for the French companies in the region where there are more than 200 French companies investing in the local market, half of which is registered with a 100% ownership of French enterprises, which France hopes to multiply. In addition, there are 100 other companies with Qatari-French joint capital.
The Qatari market has attracted major French companies such as VINCI and the Lagardere Group, as well as investment in the oil and gas sector through Total, Qatar Chemical Company (QChem), Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Ltd. (Qatargas), the Qatofin Company, GASAL QSC, Safir Petroleum company and QDVC. There are also specialised companies in exhibitions and conferences, as Doha is a great destination for conferences and exhibitions.
In reference to the oil and gas sector, the North Oil Company was launched in last July so the French company Total had taken over the operations in the field instead of the Danish company Maersk, whose contract had ended. Both sides are working on implementing Al Shaheen Oil Field plan to produce 300,000 barrels of oil a day. Qatar is investing $3.5bn in this project, which will boost Qatar’s oil production and strengthen its position in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).
France has become a particularly attractive target for these investments. Qatar Investment Authority’s (QIA) investments represent a long-term equity portfolio and enhance Qatar’s position internationally, as they are making prestigious purchases in Le Brantano Stores, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club and Le Tanneur Group, especially with regard to real estate and luxury hotels in Paris, Nice and Cannes.
QIA also invests in a mutual fund with the French Deposit and Guarantee Fund to support small and medium enterprises which are the main pillars of the French economy for their ability to contribute effectively to the composition of GDP.
French investment in Qatar is expected to increase as the year 2022 approaches, as several French projects associated with the organisation of FIFA World Cup have been agreed upon. These projects will benefit the two friendly countries by developing the infrastructure in Qatar and creating more than 6,000 job opportunities in France through a series of French projects signed this year and are being carried out such as the metro, the new Doha port, the French lighting and electricity companies and even the French security companies and tourism programmes.
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