Prime Minister Rafic Hariri served as Lebanon's President of the Council of
Ministers for six consecutive years, from November 22, 1992 until November 1998, when he declined to form a government.
As prime minister, Mr. Hariri heralded Lebanon into the post war era, starting the massive reconstruction effort which transformed Lebanon in less than six years from a war-ravaged country to a respected player on the international scene, politically and financially, and restored normal life and services to Beirut and all of Lebanon.
The priorities of former Prime Minister Hariri focused on stabilizing the Lebanese pound and rebuilding the infrastructure through restoring the basic services for the country, i.e. water, electricity, phones, and clearing Beirut of war debris.
He 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 Displaced People to help the thousands displaced by the war to go back to their homes, towns and villages.
In May 1994, the project to rebuild the Central District of Beirut was launched, thus initiating the biggest reconstruction site in the Middle East. Of all the reconstruction projects that his government undertook, the reconstruction of Central Beirut was closest to the former prime minister's heart and the one he worked on long before he became premier. Mr. Hariri believes that rebuilding the heart of Beirut will breathe life into the whole of Lebanon.
The Hariri government was also successful in attracting embassies and investors back to Lebanon, and put the country back on the international financial map through the issuing of the Eurobonds.
During this period Lebanon was still living under constant threat from Israel and its military machine. On July 25, 1993, Israel started a seven-day bombing campaign against Lebanon and its civilian population. Former Prime Minister Hariri called for an urgent Arab meeting, which was held in Damascus and guaranteed Arab support for Lebanon.
In May 1995, Mr. Hariri formed his second government. After the 1996
Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" aggression against Lebanon, which resulted in the killing of more than 100 Lebanese civilians at Qana in South Lebanon, former Prime Minister Hariri launched a diplomatic campaign to stop the Israeli attack and reach a ceasefire. His efforts succeeded in bringing world attention to the occupation of the South and helped in reaching a ceasefire, the April Understanding and the establishment of the Monitoring Group, and a framework to assist in the reconstruction of Lebanon.
In December, 1996, the first serious international conference to help Lebanon was held in Washington under the sponsorship of the United States, with former Prime Minister Hariri as co-president.
More than 30 countries and representatives of businesses and international organizations and financial institutions attended the conference. Many of these countries pledged to help Lebanon, either financially or through technical assistance.
On September 1, 1996, Mr. Hariri was elected a Member of Parliament along with 13 candidates on his electoral list. Former Prime Minister Hariri still holds his parliamentary seat and heads his parliamentary bloc. On November 25, 1996, Mr. Hariri was asked to form his third consecutive government.
Under this third Hariri government, Lebanon held its first municipal elections since 1963 and reopened the new Beirut International airport. It also succeeded in breaking down its international isolation through the lifting of the American travel restrictions.
Former Prime Minister Hariri's political activities in Lebanon and his rise on the Lebanese political scene preceded his assuming the premiership of his country. In 1989, Mr. Hariri endorsed the Taef Agreement which put an end to the civil war and laid down the principles of national reconciliation.
In 1984, Mr. Hariri participated in the Geneva and Lausanne
conferences and helped broker initiatives which sought to put an end to the civil war. Mr. Hariri started his mediation among the different factions in Lebanon to find a way out of the abyss of war in 1983.
The Lebanese remember Mr. Hariri most as the philanthropist who put his means at the disposal of the Lebanese government to clean Beirut and deal with the effects of the Israeli siege of Beirut, in 1982.
In 1979, the former prime minister founded the Hariri Foundation, a non-profit organization that helped more than 30,000 students pursue their university studies in Lebanon, Europe and America, and promoted education and culture in Lebanon. The Hariri foundation also provides health, social and cultural services to those who need it in Lebanon. The Foundation maintains offices in Beirut, Paris and Washington.
Mr. Hariri is a renowned businessman, whose career began in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he founded one of the country's biggest companies (Saudi Oger). He is still the owner and director of several world-wide companies.
He was born Rafic Bahaa El Din Hariri in Sidon, Lebanon, in 1944 and is married to Mrs. Nazik Hariri.