France–Qatar relations

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France – Qatar relations
Map indicating locations of France and Qatar

France

Qatar

France–Qatar relations are the bilateral relations between France and the State of Qatar. The first embassy to be established was the Qatari embassy in France in 1972,[1] and the first bilateral agreement was signed in 1974.[2]

History[edit]

France–Qatar relations unofficially date back to Qatar's independence on 21 September 1971, when Qatar's representative to the UN, Hassan Kamel, delivered his country's admittance speech to the UN in French. Qatar established its first embassy in France in 1972, and made its first presidential visit to France in 1974.[1]

Diplomatic representation[edit]

Embassy of Qatar in Paris

Qatar has had an embassy in France since 1972, situated in Rue de Tilsitt, Paris. The current Qatari ambassador to France is Meshaal bin Hamad Al Thani.[3] France's embassy is based in the West Bay district of Doha,[4] and is headed by the French ambassador to Qatar, Eric Chevallier.[5]

Diplomatic visits[edit]

Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani was the first Arab leader to visit France after Nicolas Sarkozy assumed presidency in 2007.[6]

On 22 June 2013, French president François Hollande visited Doha to discuss the economic ties between France and Qatar. He also met with Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in order to discuss the Syrian Civil War.[7]

On 3 May 2015, President Hollande visited Qatar where he signed cooperation agreements in the field of civil defense.[8]

Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited French president Emmanuel Macron in September 2017 to discuss the Qatari diplomatic crisis. Macron stated that the countries should lift sanctions against Qatari nationals. He also reiterated France's support for Kuwaiti mediation efforts and opined that the crisis is harmful to the stability of the region.[9]

Diplomatic cooperation[edit]

International organizations[edit]

Despite Qatar's population comprising only 1% French speakers, the country was admitted in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie as an associate member in 2012. It was not required to join as an observer state prior to its full admittance.[10]

Political[edit]

In effort to mend ties between Qatar and the countries which severed relations with it during the Qatar diplomatic crisis, France assigned a special envoy to mediate between the two parties in September 2017.[11]

Military[edit]

France and Qatar signed a defense pact in 1994.[12]

In 2009, approximately 80% of Qatar's military equipment derived from France.[13] France provides military training to Qatar's special forces.[14]

In May 2015, French president François Hollande and Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani signed an agreement for Qatar to purchase 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to be used for reconnaissance missions.[15]

In March 2018, Qatar purchased 12 more Dassault Rafale fighter jets as part of an existing contractual option with Dassault Aviation.[16] France delivered the first five Rafale jets to Qatar on June 5, 2019 – the day that marked Qatar’s two years since the economic and diplomatic blockade.[17] In June 2019, as Qatar completed two years under the diplomatic embargo, the country received its first five of the 36 purchased Rafale fighter jets from France. The first aircraft was formally handed to Qatar in February 2019, but was kept in France itself before being delivered on June 5, 2019.[18]

Business and investment[edit]

France passed a law in 2008 which accorded Qatari investors in Paris with certain tax exemptions.[6]

Qatar became France's seventh largest customer and sixth largest supplier in the Middle East in 2012. Exports from France focus mainly on the supply of capital goods, deliveries of Airbus aircraft, and trade.[19]

Qatar Investment Authority owned a 2% stake in French media company Vivendi in early 2012. It also owns a stake in Lagardère Group[20] and construction company Vinci SA.[21]

In 2012, Qatar entered in a preliminary agreement with France to invest 50 million euros in small-scale businesses in France's suburbs. However, the agreement drew criticism by France's political parties, and as a result, it was renegotiated later that year under the terms that it would not fund businesses based on their geographic location. In June 2013, a new agreement was announced which saw the French financial organization Caisse des dépôts et consignations become involved and the total value of investment raised to 300 million euros.[22]

On 11 February 2019, the two countries concluded a "strategic dialogue" to strengthen cooperation on matters relating to the economy, energy and security.[23]

Education[edit]

French international school Lycée Bonaparte was opened in Doha in the mid-1970s.[24] Lycée Voltaire, also a French school, was opened in Qatar under the supervision of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. Several issues ensued between the school board and the Ministry of Education, however. For instance, the Ministry of Education attempted to manipulate the school's curriculum by removing a chapter pertaining to Christianity in the Middle Ages from one of the school's text books.[25]

HEC Paris, a business school, became the first non-English, European institution to establish a branch in Education City[6] in June 2010.[26] It also launched Qatar's first executive MBA in February 2011.[27]

Sport[edit]

Qatar Sports Investment, a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority, purchased French football club Paris St-Germain in October 2012. The club value was estimated to be worth $130 million, and the QSI invested a further $340 million in the club's players.[28] Qatar-based beIN Sports acquired co-broadcasting rights of Ligue 1 (France's top football league) in 2014.[29]

Arts and culture[edit]

Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani, a member of Qatar's royal family, purchased 17th century hotel Hôtel Lambert in 2007 for a reported $88 million. He came under fire after he attempted to renovate the hotel in 2009, with critics stating that any reconstruction would harm France's architectural heritage.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mehdi Lazar (6 April 2013). "France - Qatar : une relation complexe, privilégiée et ancienne" (in French). Atlantico. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Agreements and Treaties". French Embassy in Doha. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Qatari Embassy in Paris, France". embassypages.com. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Address, directions, map". French Embassy in Doha. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Biography of His Excellency, Eric CHEVALLIER". French Embassy in Doha. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b c John Irish and Regan E. Doherty (13 April 2011). "Libyan conflict brings French-Qatari ties to the fore". Reuters. Retrieved 13 September 2015.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Continuity trumps change on Hollande's Qatar visit". France 24. Agence France-Presse. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ "Qatar, France open new chapter in defence ties". Gulf Times. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Qatar emir meets Merkel, Macron on first foreign tour since crisis". France 24. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  10. ^ "AJC Stunned by Qatar's Admission to Francophonie Organization". Global Jewish Advocacy. 14 October 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Paris appoints envoy to help 'appease tensions' between Qatar, neighbors". Press TV. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Qatari exports to France double over 2000". Al Bawaba. 24 June 2001. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  13. ^ Dominique Lagarde (27 February 2009). "Le Qatar, un émirat francophile". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  14. ^ Hugh Eakin (27 October 2011). "The Strange Power of Qatar". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  15. ^ "Qatar signs deal on French Rafale fighter jets". Deutsche Welle. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Qatar makes down payment to Dassault for 12 more Rafale jets". Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Under embargo Qatar takes delivery of first Rafale jets". France 24. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Under embargo Qatar takes delivery of first Rafale jets". France 24. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Economic relations". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (France). Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  20. ^ Shane McGinley (22 March 2012). "Qatar boosts stake in French media giant Vivendi". Arabian Business. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  21. ^ Justine Gay (27 November 2012). "Le Qatar, deuxième actionnaire du groupe Vinci" (in French). Journal du Net. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  22. ^ Julien Ponthus (23 June 2013). "France and Qatar end suburbs dispute with new fund". Reuters. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Qatar and France sign deal for greater economic, energy and security cooperation". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  24. ^ "Historique" (in French). Lycée Bonaparte. Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  25. ^ Sabah Ayoub (8 November 2012). "How Qatar Became a Francophone Country". Al Akhbar. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  26. ^ "HEC Paris Showcases Top-Ranked Executive Education Programs at Access MBA Fair in Qatar". Qatar Foundation. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  27. ^ "HEC Paris welcomes Class of 2016 of Executive MBA program". zawya.com. 8 March 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  28. ^ Scott Sayare (26 October 2012). "Qatar Is Becoming a Player in French Sports". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  29. ^ "Ligue 1 nets nearly $1 billion for TV rights". The National. 5 April 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  30. ^ Jeffrey T. Iverson (29 October 2009). "Is France Doing Enough to Save Its Historic Buildings?". TIME. Retrieved 13 September 2015.