France : Qatar steps in to save troubled French suburbs

24 September 2012 – Presseurop Libération


In what it describes as a “takeover bid” on France’s suburbs, Libération reports that the French government has endorsed the creation of a 100-million euro Qatari fund to develop “sensitive” neighbourhoods, that is to say the deprived suburbs of major French cities.

This is not an unsolicited initiative, points out the daily, which explains that ANED, the National Association of Local Representatives for Diversity, asked the emirate to invest in les banlieues [...] because “France does not look after its working class neighbourhoods”. However, the initiative will mean that Qatar, whose French investment portfolio already includes several luxury hotels and the Paris Saint-Germain football club, as well as shareholdings in major French companies, will continue to develop its presence in the French social and political landscape. Libération wonders about the country’s motives —

Even if Qatari diplomacy works the circuits that define the modern world, those of finance, mass media, sport and entertainment, as well as the arts and academia, it is in no way a philanthropic enterprise, neither in France nor in any of the other countries where the emirate has deployed its outposts and investments.

To see therefore Qatar land in the French suburbs as a stand-in for a cash-strapped French Republic merits serious examination. What exactly does this intervention involve, and what is being offered in exchange? What will be the next steps now that France has accepted to subcontract some of its sovereign obligations to a foreign country? All of this is bears a heady scent of mystery and *raison d’état**.*

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