French National Day celebration in Doha (14 july) [fr]
Your Excellency, M. Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, Minister of Culture and Sports
Your Excellency, M. Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti, Minister of Transports and Communications,
Your Excellency, Ambassador Ibrahim Fakhroo, Director of Protocol,
Ladies and Gentelmen,
Welcome here on the occasion of the celebration of the French National Day,
My wife Mathilde and I, as well as all of the Embassy’s team are happy to host you. [Pronounced in Arabic]
I am happy that we are numerous today to celebrate the national day of the French Republic and the values that it bears: values of liberty, equality and fraternity.
In such disrupted and often violent times, I believe it is now more than ever necessary to recall the importance of these values.
Since my arrival to Qatar, around two years ago, I strive, in the name of these values, to develop each day the already strong and old ties that unite our two countries and you can rely on me to continue doing so with determination.
When so many terrorist acts aim at dividing us, not only at the heart of our societies but also between our societies, fraternity matters more than ever. It is fraternity that should prevent us from falling into the trap of the perpetrators of these appalling acts. I deeply believe that diplomacy should here fully play its role.
It is in this perspective that I would like to thank very particularly the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Qatar, H.E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, who, in November, only three days after the attacks, came in person to Paris, to deliver messages of His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to the highest French authorities: messages of solidarity and full commitment to tackle terrorism together.
I am delighted that the cooperation between our two countries is developing in this domain whether on the bilateral level or within the international community.
The security challenges are today one of the major axes of the relationship between Qatar and France.
A bilateral relation which dates back to decades ago and which I would describe as strategic, comprehensive and based on mutual trust.
On the political level, our positions converge largely. Crises are numerous in the region.
Both Qatar and France strive to find political solutions in order to halt violence and find the way toward peace and stability.
When it comes to defense, Qatar knows that it can count on France, our cooperation attests to that.
Our economic relations are reinforcing, to the benefit of the people of our two countries. In 2015, all numbers – trade flows, major contracts, investments- have reached records. And this first 2016 semester has witnessed, in particular, the signature, here in Doha, of a major agreement between Qatar Petroleum and Total. This is a new demonstration of the quality of our bilateral relation, and of the excellence of our French companies and their involvement in the long run; remember, this year Total is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its presence in Qatar.
This commitment by French companies in Qatar obviously concerns many other fields, and as you know, Your Excellency, dear Minister, it also concerns the sector of Transport and Communications which are key to Qatar’s future.
However, our relation goes beyond strategic and economic matters.
In the domain of health, the doctor I was before my diplomatic life is delighted of the agreement signed, at the beginning of this year, between the Qatari Ministry of Public Health and the prestigious Pasteur Institute.
Another great priority, crucial for the future: education and training. I’m thinking particularly about HEC Paris, which is now sustainably established in Doha.
I cannot refrain from mentioning here a beautiful symbol of our bilateral relation, which I attended a few weeks ago, when H.E Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, after giving her speech as the new CEO of Qatar foundation, came to sit among her classmates of HEC Paris in Qatar, on the occasion of the graduation ceremony.
I would also like to salute the role of the teams of Bonaparte school and the French- Qatari Voltaire School as well as the French Institute in Qatar that offer a high quality education based on the values we are celebrating today.
Furthermore, I am very happy that our numerous exchanges with Qatar University have led on one hand, to the development, as of September, of French courses that are open to all students, and on another hand, to the creation, in the College of Law, of a French Legal Culture Club.
When it comes to culture, our exchanges are also developing. I wish to thank Your Excellency, dear Minister, for your support to this dynamic, including regarding Francophonie. I also wish to underline our remarkable cooperation with Qatar Museum thanks to H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani. This is also the case with the Doha Film Institute.
As a matter of fact, in a few days, three young Qatari films directors, two ladies and one man, will go to Paris for a summer session at La FEMIS, which is one of the best cinema schools in Europe.
This is happening thanks to the cooperation with the DFI – Doha Film Institute- whose remarkable work should be highlighted. It is not a coincidence that 4 films supported by the DFI received no less than 7 awards at the latest Cannes festival!
I would also like to salute our joint efforts for the success of COP 21; what remains now is to implement the commitments that are essential for the future of our children.
One cannot speak of the French-Qatari relationship, especially not me, without mentioning sports, Your Excellency, dear Minister. Not just because of Paris Saint-Germain that constitutes, without any doubt, one of the strong links between our two countries.
Qatar has become a leading global player in sports. Here again, we have much work to do together. I am glad that the over a hundred-year-old experience of the Tour de France could be useful to Qatar for the organization of the world road cyclist championship this fall. I am also glad that the Euro 2016 was an opportunity to have working visits of Qatari officials for the preparation of the World Cup 2022, including in the domain of security.
We all know it, Qatar is fully committed to the preparation of this World cup, the first in the Arab World, and I am convinced it will be a success. Qatar can count on France’s support on this way.
Before concluding, I want to pay tribute to those who are at the heart of the sustainable and deep relation between our two countries: our compatriots. I want to salute their dynamism and their talents. I also want to pay tribute, once again, to the elected consular advisers and to all the structures that play a key linking role within the French and/or francophone community: Doha Accueil, UFE, DFPN, CCEF, QFBC and all the others.
Also, allow me to address the Embassy staff whose dedication in the service of our country and of the bilateral relation is outstanding.
For the first time, we celebrate the 14th of July here at the Ritz-Carlton. I would like to thank the management and its teams as well as all the many and generous partners and sponsors who allow this evening to be successful, hopefully.
Finally, I would like to thank my two Qatari friends: Khalifa Al Haroon, blogger and brilliant entrepreneur, and Hamad Al Amari, talented comedian. You surely know them; they cannot be missed on social media with Mister Q and Qtips.
Upon my invitation, they have accepted to go and discover France, accompanied by a film director, Alex Klim, last fall. They came back with images and impressions that they broadly published on social media and out of which they created a short compilation full of humor, which we want to show you this evening…