Nazek Hariri: A lesson of modestyPrestige issue 82, March 2000
It is true there are thousands of stars in the sky …
Yet, there is always one that shines brighter than the others.
It shines because it is beautiful, sweet and generous. Nazek Hariri surprises by her sincerity. Under a fragile appearance lies a discreet and warm woman. She loves to laugh and hates the protocol. Her spontaneous smile hides a secret: do with love what others do with duty.
For her, true happiness lies in the help granted to others. Missionary to the oppressed and the poor, she struggles constantly behind the scenes to impose tolerance and solidarity.
Privileged face-to-face with … a discrete star.
© Archives Nazek Hariri
With the same enthusiastic movement, she hurries to the bedside of sick children, supports any event likely to boost the image of Lebanon and gives herself entirely to her family. Her generosity associated with her natural modesty, her convictions associated with love, finally her unwavering commitment to Lebanon, helped forge this image surrounded by mystery. Nazek Hariri intrigues and her personality can not be ignored.
Who are you, Nazek Hariri?
I had a happy childhood between Damascus and Amman within a united family of believers, for whom love and solidarity have always won.
I have two brothers Ziad and Jamil and one sister, Nadia.
What kind of child were you? A tomboy!
I spent my time in the street playing ball, cowboys, football. I always preferred to have boys toys.
My parents offered me dolls, but I stole the bicycle and boxing gloves of my brothers! I was the band leader … One day, I took a stone and I broke the windowpane of our neighbor. I climbed, I slipped inside because I was thinner and I opened the door to my accomplices. We devoured all the cakes and ice cream from the refrigerator reserved for guests!
It is said that you were the “favorite” of your father. Is that correct? I think it stems from the fact that I was a very sensitive and very affectionate girl.
What kind of student were you? Definitely not a dissipated student. I was studious and concentrated, when I got home with red eyes, my mother understood immediately that the test results were posted and I was second in the class and not the first!
“The future belongs to those who believe in the
beauty of their dreams ”
As a child, what was your biggest dream? Did you realize it?
I wanted to be a pharmacist like my father to be able to help the sick. Probably my dream has been achieved in part because Providence has given me the power to help a large number of people.
Your husband Rafik Hariri was born into a modest family. He became a powerful and rich man. The course is long from a single teacher, to Prime Minister …
I am very proud of Rafik and he is also proud of his humble origins. Success did not come up to his head. One day I asked him what sports club he went to, he replied with a smile that he had trained his muscles carrying boxes of oranges at harvest time in the orchards of Sidon. He worked very hard to pay for his studies. He succeeded, through his ambition and God’s will. He said with determination: “Whatever happens, without despair, against all odds, you have to always start from scratch. With each failure, begin again … relentlessly. This will make you stronger in face of adversity. Until you reach your goal. Maybe not the one you were aiming for, but certainly one that you would be most proud of. ”
© Archives Nazek HaririI draw my strength and energy in the love of mine. Top: the Hariri family: Rafik Hariri and Nazek surrounded by Nizar Dalloul and Joumana, Bahaa, Fahed, Hind, Uday, Saad, Ayman
How did you know your husband?
Every being has the right to a secret garden, this is mine … (Laughs)
Do you believe in fate? Yes. I believe that every individual has his destiny already mapped out the day of his birth.
Could we describe your life as a fairy tale? Marrying the man you love is always a fairytale…
What is the secret of the success of your marriage?
I always made sure to never neglect my marriage. I do everything to prevent our passion from turning into habit. Love is something that is built for two, every day, in a joint effort. Love is so rich, strengthens when we start a family and as we see it grow. In fact I draw my strength and energy in the love of family that I founded.
You are the wife of one of the richest men in the Middle East. Does money bring happiness?
Certainly it is a joy to be rich! Provided that this wealth does not make you blind and arrogant. So I make sure to keep my feet on the ground.
To share the money with those in need, to educate disadvantaged youth. And also to help hundreds more to specialize in Lebanon and abroad. To Rafik and me, money is not an end but a means. A way to distribute some hope around us …
Doesn’t money alter relations with your neighbors, your old friends?
Money is not necessarily synonymous with corrupt friendship. Our friends are the best proof!
Your children, what kind of education you give them? After health and religion, education is what is more important. I teach them wisdom, humility and respect of others. I do not want to impose on them so they can create their balance themselves and their happiness. Daily lesson I keep telling them: stay listening to others, respect their culture without ever trying to destroy it. I teach them to be honest, sincere, caring, sharing what they have with other people.
I repeat to them all day long the phrase of Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ”
Both of you, you have eight kids, so how do you manage your family?
I brought my eight children with the same love and the same restrictions. I love them all equally and call them every day without exception, despite the time differences.
At what point are you inflexible? Lies!
© Archives Nazek Hariri
“With my grandchildren, I forget everything and I spend hours playing with them.” Pose photo with Hussam Saad’s son, Bahaa’s daughter Bahia.
Are your children spoiled? Do you accept every whim? No, never. Their pocket money is fixed. They cannot exceed their budget. As for gifts, they must wait for occasions.
Does your husband also involve himself in the education of your children? Yes, he is harsh, inflexible for anything related to their studies. He often repeats to them: “In life, you have constantly a barrier in front of you to get over it, and place each time the bar higher and higher. Better disappointment of failure than regret of not having dared … ”
Both your sons Fahed and Ayman are still young. What future would you like for them? I do not want them to choose politics. And each one has his own character, his own ambitions.
I keep telling them, “When you got to the top of the mountain, keep climbing. It takes years to build up trust and only seconds to destroy it. Whatever the nature of your work, do not compromise yourself, your only wealth is yourself! ”
Your daughter Hind is fifteen years old, what is the very first lesson you teached her? That life is a rose whose every petal is a dream and a reality each spine. And I keep telling her “Treat others as you want to be treated.”
Your biggest dream?
Preserving my family happiness, and spreading it around me.
© Archives Nazek Hariri
«I am very proud of Rafik, she said, and he is very proud of his humble origins. Success has not turned his head»
You lead a quiet life with a pervasive husband and then one day he became Prime Minister, how did you feel about this upheaval? Politics is not clear, not transparent, it’s swimming in troubled waters. I learned it when my husband became Prime Minister and I was shocked by this reality. Finally, Prime Minister or not, my husband was always busy with his work. But always there when his family needed him.
Do you wish to see him Prime Minister again, and why?
Rafik Hariri said in an interview with Prestige:
“My favorite critic is my wife. She has an impressive vision, careful review of what I do. Nazek has always brought me luck. “What do you think? (Laughs) If he says so, it means he believes it.
What is for you the most important quality in a man? Tenderness and fidelity.
A close friend said of you: “Pier into the ocean of the crowd, Nazek discovered she had no choice,” It was to drown or learn how to swim.
The results exceeded all expectations …
Thank you. I think you overestimate my abilities (small smile).
What do you think is the most important asset of a woman? The most beautiful ornament of a woman is love. The most valuable weapons are charm and mystery.
Who is the person you admire the most? This is a difficult question, very difficult! (laughter)
Do you believe in luck?
Yes, but the odds must be supported by discernment.
You do not cross the street by saying: “I’m lucky, I close my eyes.” You have to look carefully to the right and left before crossing! When the train passes you have to take it, it may not happen again!
All the girls dream of your life. As a teenager, did you dream too? Already at school, I had the uncanny sense of extraordinary destiny. I always felt that one day I will sow the good around me.
You are always surrounded. These marks of attention, are they not somewhat superficial? I do not think so. All those who approach me really love me or need me.
Of all your jewelry, which do you prefer? Those who have a history, a sentimental value. And the first of them is my marriage ring …
Both star and mother, can you define your lifestyle? I lead two completely different lives. There is my life in my “home” where I take a very casual style. And much less relaxing my public life. It’s great to be able to toggle between the two worlds!
And friendship in all this? Friendship is something very important to me. I also learned that even the most sincere friend, will do you wrong sometimes even unintentionally, and that we must always forgive him.
What is the first thing you would do if you were elected head of state? I would yield my place to my husband.
Are you optimistic about the future of the country? I remain still confident and optimistic. First, because it’s my nature then because I believe. Especially if Rafik returns to power, because I trust in his love and dedication to Lebanon, in his authority and credibility both nationally and internationally. I know he wants Lebanon to “shine” among other nations. He will pursue his mission against all with God’s help and the Lebanese.
What is your favorite quote? That of Lamartine, “The Book of Life is the supreme book that one cannot close or reopen at his own choice. The endearing passage is not bed twice. But the fatal slip turns by itself; we would like to return to the page that we like, and the page where we die is already under our fingers. ”
Do you have any regrets? My only regret is not having the time to read all the books I want to read, to help all people, to teach my grandchildren all the things which I’ve learned in life.
© Archives Nazek Hariri
During the visit to Lebanon by the First Lady of France Bernadette Chirac: a strong friendship links the Hariri family to the Chirac family.
What’s the first rule about your life? I do not obey the rules, I always obey my heart. “Because one sees clearly only with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eye.”
For everybody, you are a young grandmother, how would you describe yourself? I am a doting grandmother. I love my grandchildren Nazek, Aya, Bahia and Hussam. When my grandchildren are there, we play on all fours, we roll on the ground and I forget all my obligations!!
What is happiness to you? It is to be surrounded by my family. It is also to see a smile on the lips of a helpless child when you have reached out to him. Happiness is to rescue the elderly. And I like the definition of happiness by Ingmar Bergman: “Having a good health and a bad memory, “what do you think?
Your son Ayman creates computer programs. Are you aware of the field of computers?
I know nothing about it! I know that in this I am profoundly shifted of my time. I hate the idea of these virtual museum tours and shopping online. You will never see me surfing the Internet!
Are you jealous? I would be jealous just thinking that my children begin to love someone more than me!
Pavarotti held concert in Lebanon in 1999 as part of the Festival of Beirut, which you preside. Do you think that Lebanon has brought these festivals internationally? I chose a giant to prove to the world and people who want to harm Lebanon that the biggest celebrities love to visit our country.
You sponsor ballet Caracalla, is there a particular reason for that?
Caracalla is a big name in dance, in addition Lebanese. It’s a group that has become international enhancing the artistic facet of Lebanon abroad. That is why I support it. I also want to help other Lebanese talented artists.
And if you had to describe yourself in one word? Perfectionist!
Do you object to a more active participation of women politician in politics? Any wife of politician should stay with him and support him in the shadows at any moment.
What do you expect from the third millennium? I hope we will invent an effective remedy against aging (with amusement, then on a more serious note …) I just hope that peace will reign one day in the world…
You rarely move alone, you always travel with your family … I cannot live without my family, my friends, I constantly need to feel surrounded by people I love.
What are your favorite television shows? All documentaries related to history.
You have lived in Saudi Arabia and Paris. What have you learned from these societies, would you prefer to live in East or West? In Arabia I learned humility, generosity and love of neighbor. I did not feel disoriented because these values were those recommended by my parents. I lived in Paris during the war in Lebanon. My children and I took advantage of this stay culturally.
You have visited many countries, which one attracted you mostly? I love France, but something in my heart whispers, Oriental, that’s all. And my favorite capital remains Beirut.
What did you learn of Rafik Hariri? Patience and ambition.
What lessons have you learned from life? What would be your first advice to our readers? I would tell them treasure every moment you have! And treasure it always. Remember That Time flies away and waits for no one … Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery Because It’s Promised to no one. Today is a gift … that’s why it’s called “present”.
Interview by SANA ALAM