Ambassador’s speech: National day Reception (July, 14th, 2018)
Your Excellency Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport and Communications,
Your Excellency Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi, Minister of Municipality and Environment,
Your Excellency Ambassador Ibrahim Fakhro, Director of Protocol,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the fourth time that I address you on the occasion of our National day.
And I am doing it with particular emotion tonight as this is my last speech in Doha.
This is how diplomatic life goes; it is made, as for any expatriate, of discovering countries, people and cultures, but also of departures.
I will leave Qatar in a few days, sad, but also convinced that the relation between our two countries has become even stronger and richer during the past four years, including since June 2017 and the beginning of the blockade, which France demands, as you know, to be lifted.
In a region under extreme tensions, our bilateral relation has deepened, first in the political level, with the visits of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani to Paris, one in September 2017, and the other a few days ago, as well as the visit of the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron here in Doha, last December.
But our relation has also been enriched in many other areas.
Our cooperation in terms of security, justice and defense has been reinforced.
Our collaborations in the fight against terrorism, its financing, as well as the fight against radicalization, have engaged into a new dynamic, since the visit of the French President last December in Doha.
In four years, many major contracts were concluded between our two countries.
They will contribute to the sustainable structuring of our bilateral relation.
I have particularly in mind the Rafale aircrafts, the partnership between Qatar Petroleum and Total for Al Shaheen field, as well as the operation and maintenance of the Doha metro and the tramway in Lusail by SNCF and RATP.
And I welcome, from a European perspective, the consolidation of the relationship between Airbus and Qatar Airways.
But those are not the only contracts, not at all, and I have no doubt that others will be concluded.
Our current commercial relations have also developed significantly and the number of French companies present in Doha has increased.
In the scientific, medical and higher education domain, new links have been established:
between Qatar and the prestigious Institut Pasteur de Paris, as well as between many French universities or “Grandes Écoles” and Qatar University or Qatar Foundation.
I am also pleased that the latter decided to extend its partnership with HEC, one of the very best business schools in the world which will thus be able to continue to actively support the implementation of Qatar National Vision 2030.
Our cultural exchanges have also continued to develop with Qatari institutions, notably with Qatar Museums and Katara but also with the Doha Film Institute which has again recently shined at the Cannes Festival, or Qatar National Library for its partnership with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
With the Institut Français du Qatar, we were able to organize in Doha during the last four years, and with an assumed choice of eclecticism, some magical moments, from the concert of the very promising mezzo-soprano Ambroisine Bré, to the concert of the exuberant Orchestre National de Barbès, as well as Ibrahim Maalouf concert, the J.R. exhibition, and Picasso Giacometti exhibition held at the Fire Station.
I am also very pleased that we were able to move forward with our Qatari partners in setting up an ambitious programme for France-Qatar cultural year 2020.
And I am happy about the very active role that the Embassy has played, together with the Institut Français, in the establishment, in Doha, of the first European cultural cluster in the region.
The Francophonie is also noticeably developing; with the establishment of university French minor at Qatar University, which will reinforce a vibrant Francophonie aiming at sharing cultures and values as well as supporting linguistic diversity.
In the field of sports, the past four years were thrilling.
In 2015, they were marked by the final between France and Qatar in Doha for the World Handball Championship, then, year after year, by many other international competitions that show the growing expertise and capacity of Qatar when it comes to organizing major sports events.
This augurs well for the FIFA 2022 World Cup for which France stands alongside Qatar and which will undoubtedly be a worldwide success.
In this regard, I hope to be back here in 2022 as a supporter in order to see again the French national football team reaching the final, as it will be the case tomorrow.
World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 – whose first bidding presentation took place here – two major sports events that pave the way for numerous collaborations.
We cannot, in my opinion, speak of such events without mentioning those who build the infrastructures that are essential to the success thereof.
This should be a subject of attention everywhere in the world.
I truly hope that an active concertation between the Qatari authorities, the countries of origin of the workers, the remarkable team of the International Labor Organization present here in Doha, as well as social and economic stakeholders, will allow for Qatar to become an example to be followed in the region in terms of living and working conditions of foreign workers.
Relations between the two countries are not only built by the institutions but also, and mainly, by the people.
To our Qatari hosts, I would like to express the great pleasure my family and I have had to live here and meet them.
Durable, friendly relationships were established and I am convinced they will resist time.
We have also learnt to discover the determination that Qatari women and men can show in order to face adversity and reach their objectives.
This resilience since June 2017 is, rightfully so, perceived as remarkable by all attentive observers.
Of course I would also like to warmly thank and congratulate my fellow citizens present in Qatar, for their energy and professionalism which I could admire during the past four years.
The French community in Qatar keeps growing. It is also becoming more organized, with the active support of the embassy.
A new step was made with the establishment of “La Maison de la France” which gathers today most of the components of the French community under one roof, without affecting the independence of any of them.
This “Maison de la France” hosts today the brand new French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Qatar, officially created a few days ago.
I hope, on a different note, that the French schools, Bonaparte and Voltaire, will continue to play a major role in Qatar.
As for Bonaparte, I welcome the recent renewal of its lease contract for the 25 upcoming years, under very favorable conditions, which will pave the way for its future.
French community in Qatar, also include the military contingent at Al-Udeid Airbase, which play a key role within the international coalition against terrorism. And I would like in this regard to welcome their presence today, as well as part of the crew of the anti-air destroyer, Cassard, called in Doha.
I would like here to express our esteem and our respect for all they are doing to serve France and the international security.
I would finally like to thank, with all my heart, the remarkable team of the Embassy – expatriates and local staff alike – without the professionalism and dedication of whom nothing would have been possible.
Many “pillars” of this Embassy will leave Qatar this summer.
I hope for our successors to have the same tremendous welcome that we benefited from.
I have no doubt that, together with those who stay, they will get to write new pages to the deep and durable relation between our two countries.
Thank you and goodbye