French resentment builds over Qatari tax-free property empire

“The United Arab Emirates are not at all happy because Qataris have a better tax treatment,” said Nathalie Goulet, a centrist senator from Lower Normandy, who spoke to UAE officials during a fact-finding mission to the Arab Gulf earlier this year. She finds the French concessions “extravagant” and says the fact that Qatar’s neighbours are complaining is a sign the treaty is wrong.

The Champs-Elysees lures millions of tourists every year to enjoy shopping at the Elysees 26 mall, poker at the Aviation Club, plush cars and futuristic architecture in the Citroen showroom, or feather-clad showgirls at the Lido cabaret.

But for all their Parisian charisma, none of these attractions are French-owned. They belong to the royal family of Qatar, a resource-rich emirate about 5,000km away.

Some Muslims may frown on investments in gambling, alcohol and high-kicking dancers, but over the past few decades the buildings have helped bolster Qatar’s global portfolio of trophy assets, including London’s Harrods and Singapore’s Raffles Hotel.

The latest French addition was a chain of upscale malls under the Printemps banner, bought by a fund controlled by Qatari royals in August for 1.7 billion euros ($2.23 billion).

For oil-rich royalty from the Arab Gulf, part of the attraction of the United Kingdom has been the fact it charges no taxes on profits foreign investors make when they sell real estate.

Five years ago, Qatar sealed a similar agreement with France. The treaty was agreed by former center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, and is one of the most generous Qatar has secured, exempting Qatari investors from taxes on the profits they make when they sell properties.

In a country where 3.6 million people lack decent housing, according to French charity Abbe Pierre, that is controversial.

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Posted by: SA1

Is ?145 million in tax more benefical to France or ?5.9 billion in foreign investment which otherwise would not have come to France and hence also would not have generated any tax revenue either.

Every country in the world provide some or the other benefits to make foreign investment attractive. Tax only applies to assured local income. But Foreign investment is not assured for any country and there is huge competition worldwide to attract them and hence the tax or similar benefits are given.

Posted by: Paul

You are absolutely right.
These deals come from the questionable friendship between Sarkozy and the Emir of Qatar.

Posted by: koegler bruno

Nope, you are wrong, this is not really a wished "foreign investment", as this money goes into private pockets from previous owners, who might re-invest in tax heaven, this is probably sure. What France needs like many others, to get unemployment and rising poverty down! For this, no tax is a deal for foreign investment IF THEY CONTRIBUTE AT LEAST FOR EMPLOYMENT, INNOVATIONS or other WEALTH AND GDP CREATING. Those buildings or mainly high real estate based assets are most of them existing, and if Quataris would nopt buy them, who cares, beside the speculative previous owners? France has made bullshit with this, it's probably either a freindship deal from politiciams, please don't ask what rewards they got. Media might investigate! I have no time for this as I am chasing "REAL INVESTORS" or funds that MY FRENCH GOVERNMENT SHOULD give, as I could create 100 jobs etc...
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