H.E. Rafik B. Al-Hariri
Born in Saida, Lebanon, in November of 1944, Mr. Al-Hariri received his schooling in Saida and then received a diploma in Higher Commercial Studies from Beirut Arab University in 1966. He then traveled to Saudi Arabia where in 1969 he established his own company, CICONEST. In 1978 he founded Saudi Oger which he built into one of the largest Arab construction companies and one of the most important in the world.
Being not only a successful and internationally renowned businessman, Mr. Al-Hariri is also well known for his philanthropic activities, particularly in the reconstruction of Lebanon, education, and general social welfare. He established the Hariri Foundation in 1979 in Lebanon with branches in France, Britain, and the United States. Since its inception the Hariri Foundation has provided educational grants and interest free loans to over 31,000 Lebanese students. The Hariri Foundation has also granted funds to developmental and cultural projects.
The Hariri Foundation is but one part of Mr. Al-Hariri's commitment to his native country of Lebanon. He has contributed substantial resources to building hospitals and schools and restoring city facilities in Lebanon. His commitment to helping others is based on his belief that "the possession of wealth imparts a responsibility to participate in society".
Mr. Al-Hariri more than once mobilized his resources to help war-torn Lebanon. As the bombs were falling on Beirut in the summer of 1982, Mr. Al-Hariri instructed his company Oger Liban to send its work crews, bulldozers, and trucks out to clear the rubble and debris from the littered streets of all the devastated areas.
In November 1990, Mr. Al-Hariri was elected to the Boston University's Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the American University of Beirut. Through Mr. Al-Hariri's support the Hariri Foundation owns and operates two schools in Beirut, Lycee Abdelkader and the Hariri High School (formerly the Evangelical School), and one school in Saida, Hariri High School Number One. Mr. Al-Hariri recently broke ground on a new school that will eventually be kindergarten through high school in Tarek El-Jadidah section of Beirut. The land for the school and its actual construction are donations by Mr. Al-Hariri. The tuition of the students who attend this school will be paid by loan repayments made by Hariri Foundation Alumni.
No single event since the end of the civil war in Lebanon has had a greater positive impact on the Lebanese economy than Mr. Al-Hariri's appointment on October 31, 1992, as Prime Minister of the Republic of Lebanon. The value of the Lebanese Pound appreciated against the dollar and was successfully stabilized at higher levels. He undertook to rebuild the country which had suffered massive physical destruction from sixteen years of war, actively working to restore its Middle Eastern role and its financial market, reshaping the educational system, and restoring the country's infrastructure.
Mr. Al-Hariri has been awarded numerous medals and citations including Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy (1983), Commander of the Order of Cedars of Lebanon (1983) Order of King Faisal (1983), Officer, Legion of Honour, France (1986), Doctor Honoris Causa, Boston University (1986), Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Nice (1988), Doctor Honoris Causa, Beirut Arab University (1994), Order of San Martin, Argentina (1995), "Louise-Michel" Award, France (1995), Doctor Honoris Causa, Georgetown University (1996), Grand Croix dans l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur, France (1996), and Doctor Honoris Causa, Universite de Montreal (1997).