Bahaa El Din Hariri
Born 1944 in the city of Sidon. His life was marked
with continuous struggle. He lived up to the responsibilities
that were entrusted upon him both nationally and
politically, and as a businessman started from the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he founded one of
the biggest companies (Saudi Oger). He devoted his
energies to the service of his country Lebanon which
endured long years of war, his resources were put
at the disposal of the state after 1982 Israeli
invasion, and helped more than thirty thousand Lebanese
students pursue their university studies in Lebanon,
Europe and America. In order to put an end to the
civil war in Lebanon, he partook in organizing the
1984 Lausanne conference and Taif conference of
1989 , the latter put an end to the war.
He was appointed Prime Minister of Lebanon for three
successive governments on 22 November 1992, 21 May
1995 and 24 October 1996. While in government, he
launched the biggest construction program in the history
of his country. One of its more salient features is
the rebuilding of the Beirut Central District that
began in 1994. He is known for his international relations
and broad diplomatic contacts, especially in the face
of Israeli aggression on Lebanon and for encouraging
businessmen and foreigners. To invest in Lebanon.
He is the holder of many decorations from most kings,
princes and heads of Arab and friendly states.
The President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Rafic
Hariri, has been at the helm of five governments in
Lebanon since 1992. For over a decade, Prime Minister
Hariri has presided over the physical and economic
reconstruction of a Lebanon torn by war. No such work
has ever been accomplished under this limited time
frame and conditions. Prime Minister Hariri is heading
the current government after having been elected to
office in April 17, 2003 and having received the support
of 93 out of the 128 Members of the Lebanese Parliament.
Hariri was born in Sidon, Lebanon, in 1944, to parents
who were dedicated to their three children, Rafic,
Shafic, and Bahia. Mr. Hariri studied at elementary
and secondary schools in Sidon, and pursued university
studies at the Arab University of Beirut, majoring
in commerce. He moved to Saudi Arabia in 1965 in search
of a better life, working there as a school teacher,
and as an accountant before starting his business
as an entrepreneur, which took him very far thanks
to his hard work, perseverance and ethics. He was
able to build and deliver a hotel in Taef, Saudi Arabia
in six months, a task rather impossible. There he
married Mrs. Nazik Audeh Hariri and are parents to
seven children and now seven grandchildren.
Prime Minister Rafic Hariri is a philanthropist, a
self-made man who built his businesses single-handedly
on the basis of his reputation as an honest, credible
and trustworthy partner in all his endeavors. He believes
that trust is the most important asset that guides
people, personal and business relations alike. He
is also renowned for his efficiency and dedication
to his work and to every cause he champions as his
quick rise in Saudi Arabia shows.
Hariri began his involvement in the political and
economic life of his country long before he became
prime minister. As a Lebanese businessman living in
Saudi Arabia, he was concerned about the ongoing strife
in Lebanon and he played a behind-the-scenes role
as a mediator, advisor and promoter of cease-fires
and agreements to end the civil war. He invested his
time and contacts in the Arab world and outside to
bring peace to his war-torn country. In 1982 for example,
after the Israeli invasion, his firm, Oger Liban,
became actively involved in the removal of destroyed
buildings, the opening of streets and roads littered
with roadblocks and sand bags, which paved the way
for the resumption of normal life in the Lebanese
In 1984, Mr. Hariri participated in the Geneva and
Lausanne conferences to bring about political reconciliation
in Lebanon and helped broker initiatives to put an
end to the civil war.
In 1989, Mr. Hariri was the power behind the Taef
Agreement, which succeeded in ending the war and the
drafting of a new constitution for Lebanon. This agreement
was the political contract that laid down the principles
of national reconciliation, which governs political
life in Lebanon today.
The years of Partnership
Hariri returned to Lebanon in 1992 to assume office
as prime minister after 28 years of living and working
in Saudi Arabia. He formed his first government on
October 22, 1992. He shouldered the responsibility
for helping guide a country that had just emerged
from 17 years of civil war with all the legacy of
that conflict: massive physical damage, an economy
in tatters, and political divisions.
As President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Hariri
took up the challenge. He immediately ushered Lebanon
into the post-war era, starting a massive reconstruction
effort that transformed Lebanon, in less than six
years, from a war-torn country to a huge reconstruction
site domestically, and a respected player on the international
scene. Prime Minister Hariri declared everything a
priority when he was faced with the question of what
to start rebuilding first: schools, hospitals, infrastructure,
or the economy?
the same time, the government focused on stabilizing
the Lebanese pound and rebuilding infrastructure through
restoring basic services in the country, i.e. water,
electricity, phones, and cleaning Beirut of the debris
of the war. The President of the Council of Ministers
also paid special attention to the social, educational
and health problems that Lebanon was facing as a result
of the war.
In April 1993, Mr. Hariri, established the Ministry
for the Displaced to help thousands of people who
were forced to flee their homes during the war to
return to their towns and villages. In that same year
(July 25, 1993) however the country became the scene
of a seven-day bombing campaign against Lebanon and
its civilian population. Prime Minister Hariri called
for an emergency Arab meeting, held in Damascus, and
secured Arab support for Lebanon.
these events, Mr. Hariri launched in May of 1994 the
project to rebuild the Beirut Central District (BCD),
which was totally destroyed during the war. Mr. Hariri
believed then, and still believes today, that rebuilding
the heart of Beirut would bring life to all of Lebanon.
He proved to be right. The heart of Beirut is now
the meeting place for all Lebanese and also for Arabs
and foreigners at large, who come by the thousands
to enjoy Beirut. It is now the financial district
and centre of the country’s institutions. Among
all of the reconstruction projects launched by his
governments, the reconstruction of downtown Beirut
is the closest to Mr. Hariri’s heart and the
one he worked on long before becoming Prime Minister.
The reconstruction process was undertaken during the
continued Israeli occupation of South Lebanon and
the constant threat of Israeli attacks against the
country’s infrastructure, especially its electricity
In May 1995, the President of the Council of Ministers
Mr. Rafic Hariri formed his second government and
he set about continuing the process of reconstruction.
In the spring of 1996, Israel launched an attack against
Lebanon, killing more than one hundred Lebanese civilians
at a UN post in Qana in South Lebanon, as part of
a military campaign that Israel called the “Grapes
of Wrath.” Prime Minister Hariri launched a
diplomatic campaign to stop the Israeli aggression.
His efforts succeeded in focusing world attention
on the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon and culminated
in a ceasefire agreement, known as the April Understanding.
This understanding forced Israel to accept, for the
first time, keeping civilians out of the military
confrontation in South Lebanon. The parties to the
understanding formed a Monitoring Group to oversee
compliance with the ceasefire, and agreed on a framework
to assist in the reconstruction of Lebanon. Since
then the overall situation has stabilized and the
country has registered positive signs of growth.
September 1, 1996, Lebanon held a round of parliamentary
elections and Prime Minister Rafic Hariri was elected
a Member of Parliament along with thirteen candidates
on his electoral list. He formed his first parliamentary
bloc. On November 25, 1996, Prime Minister Hariri
was asked to form his third consecutive government.
Under this government, in the summer of 1998, Lebanon
held its first municipal elections for 35 years. The
government reopened the new Beirut International airport
and succeeded in breaking down international isolation
through the lifting of American travel restrictions.
On October 23, 2000, the President of the Council
of Ministers, Mr. Rafic Hariri, was designated to
form his fourth cabinet, after his parliamentary bloc
won all of the seats in Beirut on September 3, 2000.
The Prime Minister won the support of 106 out of the
128 MPs to form a government.
Reviving the economy has been at the core of Hariri’s
strategy and attracting foreign investors back to
Lebanon after a long absence was seen as primordial.
On October 20, 2004, Mr. Hariri presented the resignation
of his government, declining to form a new government.
December 1996, the first international conference
whose only target was to help Lebanon was held at
the State Department in Washington, under the auspices
of the United States with Prime Minister Hariri as
co-chairman of the conference. Representatives of
international organizations, financial institutions
and businesses of more than thirty countries attended
the conference. Many of the participating countries
pledged financial or technical help for Lebanon. It
was crucial for Lebanon to return to the financial
scene and continue to raise the capital needed to
sustain the reconstruction and development effort.
To that end two major conferences, PARIS I and PARIS
II were held subsequently in order to request help
from the international community to help Lebanon manage
its public debt.
I On February 27, 2001, Prime Minister Hariri headed
the Lebanese delegation to the second Friends of Lebanon
conference at the Elysée Palace in Paris under
the auspices of French President Jacques Chirac. The
conference was dubbed the Paris I meeting. This meeting
was attended, in addition to Prime Minister Hariri
and President Chirac, by EU Commissioner Romano Prodi,
World Bank President James Wolfensohn, European Investment
Bank Vice-President Francis Meyer, French Finance
Minister Laurent Fabius, and other prominent European,
French and Lebanese officials.
Key reform initiatives presented: Prime Minister Hariri
presented his government’s economic reform program,
which was based on several basic elements:
• Stimulating and modernizing the economy,
• Following up the process of modernizing the
• Ensuring the structural improvement of general
• Preserving monetary and financial stability
as well as price stability.
Results of the conference: The Lebanese government’s
reform program won the support of the participants
of the conference, and the World Bank and the European
Investment Bank agreed to provide Lebanon with 500
million Euros to finance development projects.
November 23, 2002, President Jacques Chirac of France
hosted the "Paris II" meeting at the Elysée
Palace, entitled: “After Construction and Recovery,
Toward Sustainable Development”. Paris II was
attended by key officials from several countries and
of the conference: To seek support of the international
community in helping Lebanon in its endeavor to alleviate
the burden of the public debt and to reverse the macroeconomic
and fiscal imbalances of the Lebanese economy. The
help would consist in extending long-term financing
at interest rates significantly lower than the rates
at which the government borrowed in the domestic and
Convening this conference was an unprecedented positive
sign of the economic and political support made available
to Lebanon. It reflected the consensus of the international
community on the government’s commitment towards
Lebanon financial and economic program.
Key reform initiatives presented:
• Structural reform of the various administrations
• Boosting productivity of the public sector
and improving competitiveness
• Stimulating economic growth and improving
the investment climate
of the conference: According to the Ministry of Finance,
$10.1 billion of grants and loans resulted from Paris
II. Funds amounting to $ 2.4 billion were provided
by seven lending countries, $3.6 billion from a scheme
arranged by commercial banks operating in Lebanon
and $4.1 billion from the Central Bank scheme.
there is anything that defines Mr. Hariri and points
to his proudest achievement, it is, by his acknowledgement,
the Hariri Foundation. It is a testimony to the importance
that he gives to education and future generations.
He admits that the work of the foundation is the closest
to his heart. He founded the Hariri Foundation in
1979, a non-profit organization that helped educate
more than 33.000 Lebanese students in the best universities
in Lebanon, the U.S., the U.K, France, and Canada.
The Hariri Foundation provides also health, social
and cultural services to the needy in Lebanon as well
as promotes cultural issues and children’s welfare.
It maintains offices in Lebanon, Paris and Washington.