Rafik Hariri, a self-made businessman was the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation on 20 October 2004. He headed five cabinets during his tenure. Hariri played a leading role in the reconstruction of Beirut. He opened many local and regional businesses. In addition, he founded The Islamic Foundation for Culture and Higher Education in 1979 in Sidon which later became known as the Hariri Foundation. Hariri worked towards rebuilding Lebanon, the unity of the different religious and ethnic groups. Background Information He was born to a Lebanese family of modest means in the Lebanese port city of Sidon; Hariri attended elementary and secondary school in his city and pursued his business administration studies at the Beirut Arab University. He had a brother, Shafic, and a sister, Bahia.
After training as a teacher he left Lebanon in 1965 to work as a teacher in Saudi Arabia and then went on to work for a construction company. There he married Nazik Audeh in 1965 and they had seven children together. In 1969, Hariri established his own construction company CICONEST. In 1978 Hariri was made a citizen of Saudi Arabia by the Saudi royal family. He then went on to become Saudi Arabia’s leading entrepreneur, acquiring Oger in 1979, and founding Oger International, which is based in Paris. His interests extended across banking, real estate, oil, industry and telecommunications.
In 1993 he founded the television station Future TV in Beirut and purchased stakes in several Lebanese newspapers. He founded his own newspaper Al-mustaqbal (The Future).
Political Career Hariri returned to Lebanon in 1992 as prime minister where he served from 1992 to 1998, then again from 2000 until late 2004. However, he served as a Member of Parliament since 1996 until his assassination in 2005.
Establishment of Hariri Foundation Hariri’s contributions were numerous. Among the most notable is the fact that he educated 33,000 Lebanese students inside and outside of Lebanon, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars of his own personal money to redefine the face of social hierarchies in Lebanon. He supported charity, along with a number of non governmental institutions, and finally aiding in various investments in the country.
In addition, Hariri bought Lycee Abdel Kader in 1985, as well as the Anglican School in 1986. He pledged on keeping them as schools, however he added social and educational programs onto them. He founded Rafik Hariri High School III in 1998 as well as the Hariri Canadian University in Mechref in 1999 where more programs are being established. Distinctions, Medals and Awards Rafik Hariri was awarded numerous medals and awards in his lifetime, some of which are:
Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (1981)
Chevalier of the Italian Republic (1982)
Cedar National Medal / Rank of Commandor (1983)
Saint Peter and Saint Paul Medal (1983)
Save the Children 50th Anniversary Award (1983) Medal of King Faysal (1983)
Médaille de la Ville de Paris (1983)
Golden Key of Beirut City (1983)
Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (1983)
Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (1986)
Doctor Honoris Causa of Boston University (1986)
Docteur Honoris Causa de l’Université de Nice (1988)
Doctor Honoris Causa of the Arab University of Beirut (1994)
Goldaen Key of Sao Paolo City / Brazil (1995)
Medal of the Liberator of Argentina – General José St. Martin (1995)
Prix Louise Michel – France (1995)
Doctor Honoris Causa of Georgetown University – Washington USA (1996)
Grande Croix de la Légion d’Honneur (1996)
The Grand Cordon (1996)
The Order of Diplomatic Service Merit Grand Gwang Hwa Medal – Korea (1997)
Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Ottawa, Canada (1997)
Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Montreal, Canada (1997)
Le Grand Collier du Trône – Morocco (1997)
Cavalier du Gran Croce (1997)
Al Nahda medal, First Category, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (2001)
Medal of Honor of the Arab Union / The Arab Union of Veterans Associations (2001)
“Star of Romania” at the rank of “The Grand Cross” (2002)
Union Medal / Republic of Yemen (2002)
Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon (2003)
Orient Doctorate Degree, Moscow State Institute for International Relations (2003)
UN-HABITAT Scroll of Honor Special Citation for Post Conflict Reconstruction / World Urban Forum, United Nations – Barcelona, Spain (2004)
King Faysal International Award for Serving Islam, equally with the Islamic Bank for Development (2005)
Tipperary International Peace Award (2005)
Assassination in 2005 (by Israel)
On 14 February 2005 Rafik Hariri was killed, along with 21 others, when explosives equivalent of around 1,800 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove near the St. George Hotel in Beirut. Among the dead were several of Hariri’s long time companions and his friend and former Minister of the Economy Bassel Fleihan. Rafik Hariri was buried along with his companions near Mohammad Al Amine Mosque in downtown Beirut. After his death, Beirut International Airport was renamed Rafik Hariri International Airport in his honor along with the Beirut General University hospital which was renamed Rafik Hariri Hospital. And finally, Hariri Foundation became Rafik Hariri Foundation where the same spirit and vision will be carried forward by his colleagues.