France and Qatar


Bilateral relations

The bilateral relationship initially began to develop in the early 1990s in the area of security (signature of a defence agreement in 1994) and hydrocarbons. The Qatari wish to diversify the economy of the country and reduce its dependence on gas revenue has helped to broaden the scope of our cooperation to include aviation and cultural and educational cooperation. The signing of agreements and contracts in the fields of the economy, education, defence and counter-terrorism during the visit by the President of the Republic on 7 December 2017 enhanced France’s partnership with Qatar.

Bilateral visits

Bilateral visits and meetings are held frequently. President François Hollande made an official visit to Qatar on 22 and 23 June 2013 then on 4 May 2015 to sign contracts regarding the purchase of 24 Rafale fighter aircraft.

After being received at the Élysée Palace on 21 September 2013 for a working visit on the situation in Syria, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani chose France for his first official visit to an EU country, on 23 and 24 June 2014. He visited France again on 15 September 2017.

French Ministers of Foreign Affairs visited Doha on 19 November 2016, then on 15 July and 3 September 2017.

The French President, Mr Emmanuel Macron, visited Qatar on 7 December 2017, accompanied by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Minister for the Armed Forces, Ms Florence Parly.

Economic relations

Our economic ties with Qatar are solid, both commercially and financially. While our trade slightly decreased in 2016, after a record year in 2015, it is still much higher than in previous years. According to 2016 figures, Qatar represents France’s seventh-largest trade surplus at €1.6 billion (€1.8 billion of exports and €239 million of imports).

France also remains one of the leading destinations for Qatari foreign investment, along with the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States (Qatari investments in France were estimated at nearly €25 billion in 2016). The bilateral investment fund “Future French Champions”, endowed with €300 million, was created in 2013. It is a partnership between the French Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and Qatar Investment Authority sovereign fund. It has conducted five transactions since its inception, in support of French small and medium-sized enterprises and intermediate-sized enterprises.

With a strong presence in the Emirates, French companies continue to invest through projects they are collaborating on in the area of infrastructure (preparation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup), energy, the environment and new technologies. During the French President’s visit to Qatar on 7 December 2017, emblematic contracts worth in excess of €16 billion were signed in the areas of defence, transport, aviation and clean-up.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

In order to balance its partnerships, it has sought, in the last few years, to strongly enhance its cooperation with France. In the field of higher education and research, Qatar has invited several major international academic institutions to set up a branch in Education City. This is particularly the case with the HEC School of Management, Paris.

In the area of culture, a cooperation agreement was signed in June 2014 during Emir Tamim’s visit to France. 2020 will be an important year for France in Qatar.

Finally, Qatar – with its 200,000 French speakers - has been an associate member of the International Organization of La Francophonie since October 2012. That same year, France was re-introduced in State education (option offered to students in their last two years of secondary school). In addition, 60 students with scholarships from the Qatari Government are currently working in language centres and attending French universities.

Two French schools have been established in Doha: Lycée Bonaparte, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016, and Lycée Voltaire, 10 years old in 2017. Some 3,000 students are enrolled there.

Other cooperation

Security and defence cooperation between France and Qatar, which was formalized in 1994 by a defence agreement, is a pillar of our bilateral relations. In 2011, French and Qatari pilots were jointly deployed in operations in Libya.

The signing on 4 May 2015 of a contract for the purchase of 24 Rafale fighter aircraft, and then the activation of the option for 12 additional fighters in December 2017, along with the signing by Qatar of a major contract for VBCI armoured vehicles, have confirmed the close relations between Paris and Doha.

Bilateral military exercises are organized on a regular basis in the emirate. Cooperation between France and Qatar has deepened in the fight against terrorism and its financing: a declaration of intent and a common roadmap have been signed, and our first bilateral dialogue on the subject was held in late 2017.

Updated: 11 December 2017

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