Qatar, an essential ally despite business

The situation in the Gaza Strip dominated discussions during the Emir of Qatar's state visit to Paris this week.

The small Gulf gas state has established itself as an essential mediator to secure a new truce, accompanied by the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees.

In Paris, Emir Tamim al-Thani also signed a commitment agreement relating to 10 billion euros to invest in the French economy by 2030. Qatar confirms its status as an essential ally, despite embarrassing suspicions of corruption.

The Emir of Qatar, Tamim al-Thani, surrounded by Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, February 27, 2024. AFP - LUDOVIC MARIN

By: Nicolas Falez Follow


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“Qatar bashing”, the term was coined to describe the systematic criticism of the Gulf emirate.

It must be said that critics of the wealthy monarchy are spoiled for choice: Qatar is notably cited in a vast 

scandal of alleged corruption of European institutions, Qatargate


The affair began with the discovery of millions of euros in cash with MPs and other European officials.

The investigation must determine whether Qatar (like other states) attempted to buy decisions and positions in its favor.

The scandal broke out in the middle of the 2022 Football World Cup, a competition whose attribution to the emirate raises enough doubt for investigations to be opened in several countries, including France.

Also on the international scene, Qatar is regularly criticized, particularly for the links it maintains with organizations classified as “terrorist” by the European Union or the United States.

The ruler of this small, much-criticized country is Tamim al-Thani, 43 years old.

He took over from his father Hamad in 2013 and has given very few interviews.

In September 2022, he made a rare exception for the French weekly 

Le Point

 and responded to criticism of 

the working conditions of foreign workers on World Cup sites

 or the carbon footprint of a competition organized in air-conditioned stadiums.

The emir then distinguished useful criticism from 

“those which continue whatever we do.”

These are people who do not accept that a Muslim Arab country like Qatar hosts the World Cup.

They will find any pretext to denigrate us 


Nicolas Sarkozy and Kylian Mbappé

The Emir of Qatar is regularly invited to France, where the presidents who have successively welcomed him to the Élysée have been able to observe his perfect mastery of the language of Molière.

But this week, France displayed a very particular pomp: that of a state visit, that is to say the highest level of protocol for welcoming a foreign leader.

First state visit in fifteen years for an Emir of Qatar, and therefore the very first for the current monarch. 

Among the guests at Monday evening's state dinner at the Élysée: former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, footballer Kylian Mbappé, captain of the French football team and star striker for PSG – owned by Qatar, the president of the Nasser al-Khelaïfi club, known to be close to the emir, or even the CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault.

During this visit, Emir Tamim al-Thani signed a commitment agreement covering 10 billion euros to invest in the French economy by 2030. 

Also read: Qatar commits to investing 10 billion euros in the French economy by 2030

France is the leading European investor in Qatar, with nine billion dollars invested in energy, aeronautics, infrastructure and tourism.

It is also one of the five main recipient countries of investments from the emirate whose colossal fortune is derived from its gas fields.

Hamas and Taliban

But the relationship between Paris and Doha extends well beyond the realm of business.

France – like other Western countries – knows how to count on Qatar and its contacts with actors sometimes considered inappropriate.

The Gulf emirate hosted discussions between the Taliban and the United States when the latter negotiated their departure from Afghanistan.

Then the Qatari forces were in charge during 

air evacuations from Kabul


Likewise, Qatar has long maintained links with the Islamist nebula of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Coming from this movement, Palestinian Hamas is very officially established in Doha where some of its leaders reside in exile.

Qatar demonstrates and claims its ability to speak to diametrically opposed interlocutors.

This is what allowed this small Gulf country to establish itself as a key player in efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict in Gaza since October 7, 2023, going so far as to welcome the highest leaders on its soil. of the security and intelligence apparatus of the State of Israel, a country with which Qatar has no official ties.

By receiving the Emir al-Thani on Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron thanked him again for his role in the truce last October in Gaza, having allowed the release of 105 hostages held by Hamas (in exchange for the release of Palestinians detained in Israel).

The two leaders stressed the need for ongoing mediation efforts to allow the establishment of a new truce and the release of the hostages, including three Franco-Israelis.

The French president and the Qatari sovereign also highlighted their collaboration in the delivery of medicine and humanitarian aid for the civilian population of Gaza as well as medicine for the hostages still detained.

According to the joint statement that France and Qatar published on the occasion of the state visit, the two countries share the objective of an “ 

inclusive political process 

” to achieve peace between Israel and Palestine, on the borders of 1967. Paris and Doha say they “


” support the historic status quo on the holy sites in Jerusalem.


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