Bowing to the pressure to create jobs in deprived areas, French President Francois Hollande has agreed to Qatar investing millions of euros into development in France’s troubled suburbs.
The idea was so controversial, it was shelved until after the presidential election by former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Nevertheless, Hollande met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani in August, and now the French government will match or exceed the amount invested by Qatar.
French entrepeneur Mohame Kemliche is thankful for the plan: “Today, there is a person who will provide finance. This money is a godsend. If you have the money and can recover and create jobs, it is a boost to the suburbs and people will be able to work.”
This money for the suburbs differs to Qatar’s interests in high-profile French companies, including Paris St Germain football club.
However, some are questioning the investment motives.
“They are putting money into these areas only because these populations are predominantly Muslim. It is therefore a religious investment,” said far-right Front National President Marine Le Pen.
“The money shouldn’t be refused on principle. Especially not, as Marine Le Pen says, because Qatar is a Muslim country. This isn’t a problem,” argued Socialist party deputy François Pupponi.
It is believed Qatar will commit around 50 million euros to the suburbs plan and could help rejuvenate areas where unemployment is sometimes over 40 percent.