Thursday, October 20, 2005

Profile: Rafik Hariri

Rafik Bahaa Edine Hariri (1 November 1944 – February 14, 2005), was Born to a Sunni Muslim family of modest means in the Lebanese port city of Sidon. After high school, He pursued his business administration studies at the Beirut Arab University. He left Lebanon, in 1965, to work in Saudi Arabia for a construction company. In 1969, Hariri established his own construction company CICONEST, which benefitted greatly from the oil price boom of the 1970s and helped Hariri emerge as a powerful construction tycoon.

Somewhat later, in 1978, Hariri became a citizen of Saudi Arabia as a reward from the Saudi royal family for the high quality of his entrepreneurial services, and became the kingdom's emissary to Lebanon. Over the time his interests extended across banking, real estate, oil, industry and telecommunications.In 1993, he founded a television station, Future TV, in Beirut, and purchased stakes in several Lebanese newspapers. He also founded his own newspaper Al-mustaqbal (The Future).

The former Prime Minister was also the biggest shareholder in Solidere, the joint-stock company that almost single handedly transformed and revived central Beirut following the Lebanese civil war. In 1982, he donated $12 million to Lebanese victims of Israel's invasion and helped clean up Beirut's streets with his own money. He also used his personal wealth to finance the Taif Accord in 1989, which put an end to the civil war.Hariri returned to Lebanon in 1992 as prime minister. He put the country back on the financial map through the issuing of Eurobonds and won plaudits from the World Bank for his plan to borrow reconstruction money.

Hariri served as Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998, then again from 2000 until late 2004. Amid the political crisis brought on by the extension of President Emile Lahoud's term under Syrian pressure, Hariri resigned as Prime Minister (he resigned in 1998 for about the same reason), saying: "I have... submitted the resignation of the government, and I have declared that I will not be a candidate to head the (next) government."

On 14 February 2005 Hariri was killed, along with 20 others, when explosives equivalent to around 1000 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove near the St. George Hotel in Beirut.

Source: Wikipedia