France looks to Qatar for investments in Greater Paris project
April 15 2015 11:02 PM

French ambassador Eric Chevallier (left) and Greater Paris Investment Agency chairman Pierre Simon speak at the meeting of the Qatari French Business Club in Doha yesterday. PICTURE: Najeer Feroke

By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

France wants Qatar to take part in its €130bn Greater Paris Project by investing in a wide range of real estate opportunities, Greater Paris Investment Agency (GPIA) chairman Pierre Simon told Gulf Times.
“This delegation is mainly focused on real estate investments because we believe this is the area where Qatar investors are most interested in, and apparently, there are a lot of opportunities in this area right now.
“Our visit is part of the Greater Paris Project, which aims to accelerate economic development of the city; hence, the large scale of opportunities for real estate investment,” said Simon on the sidelines of the regular meeting of the Qatari French Business Club held yesterday at the Marriott Marquis City Center Hotel in Doha.
The Greater Paris region has a population of 11.9mn distributed across eight “départements,” making it the most populated region in France. The region covers only 2% of the nation’s surface area, but concentrates 19% of the urban population, Simon said.
“There is no better time for investors to position themselves to the get the best of these outstanding opportunities,” Simon stressed.
He said foreign direct investments in the Greater Paris region have surged by 42% over the last 12 months “in direct contrast to other leading global cities.”
“The Greater Paris Project aims to transform ‘The City of Light’ into a world-class metropolis of the 21st Century and represents €130bn worth of public and private investment over 2012 to 2025 in office real estate, major public infrastructures, and innovative companies, among others,” he explained.
According to Simon, there more than 100,500 hotel rooms in Paris alone but the “City of Light” still falls short of hotel accommodation due to the high influx of tourists.
“Despite the number of hotels in Paris we are still short in hotel rooms because of the rapidly increasing number of tourists. There are a lot of opportunities in hotels, but there are also other opportunities in real estate.
“These potential investments could range from office space and commercial establishments, as well as flats and residential units,” Simon explained.
He added that said GPIA has brought 12 French companies, including lawyers, bankers, and financial experts to promote the assets of the Greater Paris region in the hope of forging new partnerships between Qatar and France.
French ambassador Eric Chevallier said the GPIA’s visit to Qatar “was timely” and strengthens the meeting between HE Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah and France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius.
The foreign minister was in France on April 14 to discuss bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them. He also exchanged views on the latest developments in the region, Chevallier said.
“This is not a one-shot deal but the start of a long-term relationship and a commitment from this agency to be re-engaged with Qatar. The GPIA’s visit is very timely because our Prime Minister in Paris has announced the development plans for the Greater Paris Project. Their presence in Qatar is just one piece of the broad partnership between Qatar and France,” the ambassador added.

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