The Business Year

HE François Hollande

QATAR - Diplomacy

A Shared Vision

President, Republic of France


François Hollande joined the Socialist Party in 1979, becoming First Secretary from 1997 to 2008. Other prominent positions have included Mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008, deputy for Corrí¨ze from 1988 to 1993 and from 1997 to 2012, and Chairman of the General Council of Corrí¨ze from 2008 to 2012. Hollande graduated from HEC Paris and the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, and is an alumnus of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA). As an academic Hollande held a tenure as professor of economics at the Institut d’ Etudes Politiques de Paris from 1988 to 1991. In May 2012, François Hollande became the seventh president of the Fifth Republic. The above has been adapted from a speech delivered by President Hollande on June 23, 2013 at the French-Qatari Economic Forum in Doha, Qatar.

The relationship between France and Qatar is based on political interests, on trust, and on the same approach to today’s main global challenges, and especially of this region. If there […]

The relationship between France and Qatar is based on political interests, on trust, and on the same approach to today’s main global challenges, and especially of this region. If there was a purpose to my visit it was, first of all, to demonstrate that on the major political issues Qatar and France have the same vision and desires. I notably think of the events in Syria on which you worked yesterday with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Group of Friends of the Syrian People conference.

I also came together with the heads of 46 French companies to demonstrate that we must take a further step in our economic partnership. France is aware of the speed of Qatar’s successful development. It is truly striking, and further evidence still was provided to us when we visited the Bouygues site, here in Doha.

Everything in Qatar is taking on a new dimension: the size of the projects, the volume of finance, and the quality of the technology used. There again, our companies must respond to all the requests addressed to them. We do not ask for any special treatment or favors. We simply want to take pride in our excellence, our work quality, and our engineering, as well as the technical prowess of our products.

“ We must have principles: time, excellence, and mutual support. We must project ourselves in tomorrow’s sectors. “

Qatar has a 30-year vision of its future, which is the reason for its exceptional business diversification and development. You deliberately decided to be less dependent on your oil and gas resources and open to all sectors of the future. As you are now entering upon this new phase of development, based not only on a diversification of your businesses, but also of your investments, it is our desire to fully participate in a cooperation founded on three principles.

The first is “time.” It is been a long time since we arrived in Qatar. Total has been here for 75 years now. French companies must be willing to commit to Qatar for the long term. Not to simply meet temporary needs or catch a single opportunity, but to make it their home. There are 100 companies present in Qatar today engaged in all sectors from information technology and engineering, to distribution, and financial services. Cooperation in the academic field will also contribute to create future professionals for our companies’ mutual benefit.

The second principle on which we wish to base our cooperation is “technological excellence.” We take pride in knowing that Airbus provides two-thirds of the Qatar Airways fleet, and are even more pleased to know that Technip has made a significant contribution to the construction of mega-gas liquefaction trains; that Bouygues and Vinci could show their know-how in matters of civil engineering or in participating in prestigious projects, and that many French companies are present within the Qatar Science and Technology Park. This is what encourages us, because you have chosen us for the quality of our products and the excellence of our work.

The third principle is “mutual support.” As I often say, these investments should cover all sectors of France’s growing economy: industry and services, but also real estate—giving priority to the industry and services sectors.

France is an attractive country; however, we must be compelling enough to make your investments arrive where we expect them.

We would like to establish two partnerships, and I wish to give you two examples, the first being a financial partnership. With the “Caisse des dépí´ts” and the Qatari investment fund we have created Qatar Holding, a new investment fund that aims to support French SMEs in a process based on trust and transparency.

The second partnership I suggest sees our companies, French and Qatari, projected together in third party markets. Vinci and Diar, for example, have established a joint venture to carry out projects in Africa; Qatar Petroleum and Total have agreed to jointly develop oil activities in the Congo. We can multiply these kinds of alliances and cooperation and act together in a number of active markets, these being based on technology or geographical areas.

I also hope we can give more importance to the presence of our companies in three areas. The first is energy, since it is at the core of our economic and environmental challenges today and an element of future competitiveness. Qatar owns the third largest gas reserves in the world. To our thinking this is the least polluting hydrocarbon, and the one on which we still pin our hopes. French companies must continue to develop themselves with even more efficient technologies. But I also know the attention you invest into environmental aspects, and the energy transition. It is no coincidence that Qatar hosted the 18th edition of the Conference on Climate Change and expressed its willingness to take full responsibility on this matter. France itself will host the 21st edition of the same conference, and Qatar will be of invaluable help for us in achieving a positive outcome. We are, together, well aware of the challenges we will have to face in the energy field. We can then cooperate on the development of renewable energies, in the energy efficiency field, the reduction of carbon use, as well as in other investment areas we can pursue together.

The second area is urban development. The rapid growth of cities is a common phenomenon in many geographical areas. But here in Qatar, you have gone through major changes. The population has tripled in 10 years. A million people will be arriving in Qatar by 2030, which will create pressure. The projects are considerable, both in terms of developing office and residential buildings, as well as tourist and sporting facilities. However, there is more than just the real estate aspect. There is also transport infrastructure, sewage treatment, and other waste disposal. In short, what we call “smart cities,” in which you have led the way. In these fields, French companies are internationally recognized for their expertise. I know they are already present here to meet your needs, for the metro in Doha, and today Alstom, for Lusail’s tramway system.

The last area is services, such as water quality or waste disposal. There too, we have companies that are among the best in the world. But I would like to focus a moment on a sector that we have in common, which is sport. I am not referring to any specific French team. I talk, rather, of sport in general and about the major events Qatar is currently preparing to host. In the past, Qatar has already organized many of them. However, the one that awaits Qatar at the start of the next decade, the FIFA World Cup, is going to be a real challenge. In 1998, France organized the FIFA World Cup, too. We know from experience what the organization of such a competition implies. We ourselves are set to host the European Football Championship in 2016. When I say “we” it is of course all our services, teams, and companies that are ready to work in collaboration with you, and to respond to all your requests. You can join us now—with professionals of the highest rank—in the preparation of our European Championship in order to understand what organizing a FIFA World Cup means. And to see not only how to build a stadium, which is the minimum requirement, but also how to make the right choices in matters of transport, airports, hotels and other accommodation, and on the management of international events—the FIFA World Cup being one of the biggest.

We can do more. We must have principles: time, excellence, and mutual support. We must project ourselves in tomorrow’s sectors. We need an idea to share in terms of experience and technology. I want to salute the initiative we have taken here. Firstly, to gather together the Qatari and French business leaders, as well as the creation of the Franco-Qatari Business Council, which will bring together over the long term the companies of our two countries. I thank the Qatari Minister for Trade, as well as the French Minister for Foreign Trade for taking the initiative. I expect this Council to assess all investment opportunities in both countries to facilitate trade, to feed the flow of exports, and to stimulate partnerships, because we must succeed. We must ensure continued solid political relations, a common vision of regional balance, and security cooperation. These considerations together have underpinned the excellent long-term relationship between our two countries. My hope is that it will support new trade and investment in the interests of both Qatar and France.



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