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Mon 15 Oct 2012 11:46 AM

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Stir after Qatar joins French-speakers club

Gulf state's entry to organisation angers US jews, who argue Israel should be a member

Stir after Qatar joins French-speakers club
Qatar has become an associate member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

Qatar has become an associate member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF), a body representing French-speaking communities around the world.

Set up in 1970, the IOF has 56 members and 19 observers, which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of over 890m people, including 220m French speakers. Member states already include Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco, while the UAE is an observer.

Around 1 percent of Qatar’s population speak French and the decision to hand the Gulf state membership has been condemned by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which highlighted that Israel, where around a fifth of population can speak French, has been denied membership. Israel has been barred from joining the IOF after objections from African members and Lebanon.

Warmer ties between Qatar and the French community come after the Qatari ambassador revealed last week plans to relocate to the Gulf some of the French small and medium sized companies Qatar will invest in as part of a €300m (US$389m) fund it set up with the Parisian government last month.

“Yes, this is our strategy, we want to create partnerships. It will be in the contracts we issue. We want some of these companies to work with us in Qatar,” Qatar's ambassador to France, Mohamed Al Kuwari, was quoted as saying.

Al Kuwari also confirmed the size of the fund and how it would be managed. “We are probably talking about €200m to €300m, half of it from Qatar and half of it from the French government and possibly from the [French] private sector… The French government will propose the projects and then we will choose. We won’t choose the areas. It can be anywhere: in the suburbs, cities, towns, villages or mountains,” he said.

Business ties between France and Qatar have deepened in the past five years as the euro zone's second-biggest economy has overcome appeals towards economic patriotism, welcoming investment in areas from sports to real estate and infrastructure.

There was little backlash when Qatar bought minority stakes in infrastructure firm Veolia and builder Vinci, while sports fans cheered the purchase of football club Paris St Germain by its sovereign wealth fund last year.

The suburban funds are to be aimed at providing financing for first-time entrepreneurs looking to set up businesses.

procan 7 years ago

Might as well invite the Chinese into the club they love everything french :)

RBH 7 years ago

I'm sorry, Qatar doesn't deserve the membership. This just means that any country with 1% of the population that speaks French can be a Francophonic member. Hehe... money speaks after all.

Naceur Mechmoum 7 years ago

RBH . What is your problem if Qatar joins or not ?
Are there people opposing Qatar giving financial aid to Lebanon ?
For your info . the word Francophonic does not exist .
We know how impressed Lebanese are with the french language and culture but that does not qualify them to speak on their behalf
So learn Fench and imitate French ( if you wish ) and let other people do what they want.