Overview of Hariri Foundation History

Rafik Hariri often remarked during his lifetime that among his many programs and projects, the Hariri Foundation was closest to his heart. When he established the Hariri Foundation in 1979 during the Lebanese civil war, he entrusted it with  the mission of building the next generation of leadership for Lebanon. By pursuing this mission for the past thirty years through its many educational, cultural, developmental, and humanitarian programs, the Foundation has played a major role in Lebanon’s recovery and development.

Inspired by the conviction that education holds the key to Lebanon’s future, Rafik Hariri launched a massive student sponsorship program in the early 1980s when the universities in Lebanon were unable to enroll students. Through this program the Foundation has sponsored over 34,000 Lebanese students at home and abroad, including over 3,000 students at universities in the United States and Canada. In Lebanon the Hariri Foundation has established and administers five comprehensive schools, a university, and a technical institute. Continuing the goal of giving students with limited means the opportunity to obtain an education, each of these institutions offers financial support to students who would otherwise not be able to attend such schools as Rafic Hariri High School, Hariri High School II, Lycee Abdel Kader, Hariri School III,  Hajj Bahaa El Dine Hariri School, and the Hariri Canadian University.

The education and sponsorship programs of the Hariri Foundation have helped to improve the standard of Lebanese education and to equip many young Lebanese for productive careers in the work force. The Foundation has also funded scientific research and social and development related studies whose findings have led to important projects in several spheres of Lebanese life.

Since inception the Hariri Foundation has also been a major source of humanitarian support for the victims of war in Lebanon by providing them with emergency assistance, including food, water, shelter, medical care, and financial support to families in which one or both parents were lost to the violence of war. Along with medical care, the Foundation has also provided physical rehabilitation, psychological counseling, and vocational services to the victims of war.

What began as emergency medical care has gradually evolved into a full-grown system of 17 permanent primary health care centers which the Hariri Foundation Directorate of Health and Social Services operates throughout Lebanon and which has provided affordable, high quality health services to over 230,676 patients without regard to nationality, religion, race, or ability to pay. These services range from family medicine and pre-natal care to minor surgery, dentistry, vaccination, pediatric care, dietetic services, lab work, phlebotomy, radiology, and cardiac testing, as well as social services.

The first decade of the 21st century has seen a significant expansion of the Hariri Foundation’s activities in Lebanon as it undertook major projects in agricultural development, microfinance, food processing, flower growing and marketing, information technology, empowerment of women, safeguarding the environment, civic engagement and governance, tourism, and cultural heritage. This broadened range of programs reflects the Foundation’s ability to grow as an organization in response to Lebanon’s needs in the 21st century while keeping faith with its founder’s vision:

“I have lived by principles all my life. My beliefs are very strong. One of my strongest beliefs is in Lebanon and its people.  …. Lebanon, now more than ever, needs the devoted and unselfish talents of its own people, acting within their various means and capacities to restore the beauty of Lebanon and to bring about social and economic opportunities for all Lebanese.”  Rafik B. Hariri