Rafik Bahaeddine Al-Hariri

As President of the Council of Ministers, Rafik Hariri was at the helm of five governments in Lebanon since 1992. For more than a decade, Prime Minister Hariri presided over the physical and economic reconstruction of Lebanon, while returning Lebanon to its respected position on the international scene.

Born in Sidon, Lebanon in 1944, Hariri studied at elementary and secondary schools in Sidon and pursued university studies at the Arab University of Beirut, majoring in commerce. Hariri moved to Saudi Arabia where he started his own construction business which today is known as Saudi Oger, the leading construction company in the region.

A renowned philanthropist, Hariri established the Hariri Foundation in 1979, a non-profit, non-sectarian organization which helped to educate over 34,000 Lebanese students, many of them at the best universities in Lebanon, the United States, England, Canada, and France. The Foundation established and operates schools, clinics, a university, and technical institutes, provides health and social services to the needy, promotes cultural and human rights issues, and supports projects that strengthen the ability of farmers and women to earn a living. The Foundation has offices in Lebanon, France, and the United States.

Playing a behind-the-scenes role as mediator and advisor, Hariri promoted cease-fires and agreements to end the Lebanese civil war. In 1989 he played a major role in ending the war through his leadership at the Taif conference, which also produced the constitution that governs political life in Lebanon today.

As Prime Minister he was able to marshall international support for Lebanon’s economic recovery, serving as co-chair of the Friends of Lebanon international conference in Washington, D.C. in December 1996. In February 2001 Hariri headed the Lebanese delegation to the second Friends of Lebanon conference (Paris I meeting) held at the Elysee Palace in Paris under the auspices of French President Jacques Chirac, and in November 2002 to the Paris II conference which resulted in pledged contributions to Lebanon totaling more than 4 billion euros.

Hariri received honorary doctorates from Boston University (1986), University of Nice, France (1988), Beirut Arab University (1994), Georgetown University (1996), and many special awards and citations, such as the Grand Croix de la Legion d’Honneur (France, 1996), and in 2004 the United Nations Special Award for Reconstruction.

On February 14, 2005 Mr. Hariri died tragically in Beirut along with 21 others when his motorcade was struck by a massive explosion from a roadside vehicle.

His legacy as a national leader extends across all sectors of life in Lebanon and continues to exert a powerful force for national unity, justice, and hope in the future.

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