- Hariri, Rafiq Bahaa Edine al-
▪ 2006Lebanese business tycoon, politician, and philanthropist (b. Nov. 1, 1944, Sidon, Lebanon—d. Feb. 14, 2005, Beirut, Lebanon), used his personal wealth, international business contacts, and charismatic personality to help broker the end of the Lebanese civil war and rebuild the country's economy and infrastructure, first as an unofficial representative of the Saudi government and then as prime minister of Lebanon (1992–98 and 2000–04). Hariri, the son of a poor Sunni Muslim farmer, studied economics and business at Beirut Arab University. He immigrated to Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a teacher and founded a construction company, Saudi Oger, which built several high-profile commissions for the Saudi royal family. Hariri's business empire eventually included holdings in construction, real estate, banking, insurance, media, and telecommunications; in 1999 Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $4 billion. He also established the Hariri Foundation to provide funds for education and health care in Lebanon. In 1992 he was elected to the Lebanese parliament and was appointed prime minister under a constitution that required a Sunni head of government. A strong opponent of Syrian intervention in Lebanon, Hariri resigned from office in 1998. After being reelected in 2000, he clashed with the Syrian-backed president, Émile Lahoud, and resigned again in 2004. Hariri was assassinated in a car bombing.
* * *▪ prime minister of Lebanonborn Nov. 1, 1944, Sidon, Leb.died Feb. 14, 2005, BeirutLebanese businessman, politician, and philanthropist who, as prime minister of Lebanon (1992–98; 2000–04), was instrumental in rebuilding the country after its protracted civil war. His assassination in 2005 fomented political tensions between Lebanon and Syria.Hariri, the son of a poor Sunni Muslim farmer, briefly attended Beirut Arab University before immigrating to Saudi Arabia in 1966. There he taught mathematics and worked as a part-time accountant for a Saudi contracting firm. In 1970 he set up his own construction business and began amassing a fortune by building hotels, convention centres, and palaces throughout the Middle East. Hariri later expanded his empire to include banking, real estate, insurance, and telecommunications. Along the way, he acquired homes all over the world and used his wealth to improve the lives of the less fortunate. In 1983 he set up the Hariri Foundation, which financed the education of thousands of Lebanese students in Europe and the United States. In addition, Hariri paid the expenses for dozens of Lebanon's rival leaders, who attended the 1989 Ṭāʾif peace conference in Saudi Arabia, which was instrumental in bringing about the end of the Lebanese civil war.In 1992 Hariri was elected to the Lebanese parliament and then appointed the country's prime minister under a constitution that required a Sunni head of government. A week after taking office, he signaled his sensitivity to Lebanon's rival religions by naming a cabinet that was equally composed of Christians and Muslims. Hariri's agenda included the rebuilding of Lebanon into the Middle East's financial and trading capital by implementing his $10 billion plan to repair the country's infrastructure, negotiating a peace agreement with Israel, and ending terrorism, both at home and abroad. Friction between Hariri and his long-time political rival Émile Lahoud, then president, led to the former's resignation in 1998.Hariri was reelected in 2000, and he faced the task of revitalizing Lebanon's economy and attempting to rebuild a portion of southern Lebanon that had recently been annexed after 22 years of Israeli occupation. Under Hariri, the country experienced a resurgence of tourism that helped its economy, but the issue of Syrian influence in Lebanon polarized the country's political figures and divided Hariri and President Lahoud. To protest a Syrian-backed constitutional amendment that would have extended Lahoud's term, Hariri resigned in October 2004. The following year he was assassinated in a car bombing. Many suspected that Syrian leaders orchestrated the attack, and, in response to the ensuing political unrest, as well as pressure from the United Nations, Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in April 2005, ending the country's 29-year occupation.
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