WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 14, 2023 – The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East today announced the honorees for the inaugural Rafik Hariri Awards, who will be celebrated at a gala dinner on February 14. As the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center celebrates its tenth anniversary, the awards will honor outstanding figures from the Middle East and North Africa who embody the center’s values and vision.
In a ceremony to be held at Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Rafik Hariri Award recipients will include: Sir Magdi Yacoub, founder of the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation, Magdi Yacoub Foundation, and Chain of Hope for the Social Impact Award; Fatma Said, award-winning soprano for the Artistic Excellence Award; and Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh, executive vice chairman of Abdali Hospital for the Business Leadership Award.
February 14 also marks the 18th anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was a firm believer in unlocking and investing in the economic and human potential of the Middle East and North Africa. Inspired by his legacy, the Hariri Center for the Middle East was founded in 2011 by his son Bahaa Hariri and the Atlantic Council to perpetuate this vision.
“Through this unique celebration, we are delighted to salute the legacy of the late prime minister Rafik Hariri and the groundbreaking efforts of his son Bahaa to empower that legacy to live on,” said Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council. “The center’s work will continue to capture his vision for a vibrant and dynamic Middle East and North Africa long into the future. These awards honor that vision, and the tremendous work of the honorees.”
Kempe will join businessman and philanthropist Bahaa Hariri in providing opening remarks. The ceremony will also feature a keynote speech by Brett McGurk, White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.
A Special Tribute Award will be awarded to the late Dame Zaha Hadid for her contribution to global architecture, arts, and design.
“During the past ten years, the Rafik Hariri Center has been instrumental in amplifying voices from the MENA region in Washington with a focus on unique ways to unlock the human potential of the region,” said William F. Wechsler, senior director of the Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs. “Today, we come together to honor those inspiring leaders steering change across the Arab world in their respective fields.”
The evening will conclude with a performance by Fatma Said and Grammy Award-winning pianist Craig Terry, which will feature classic opera and Middle Eastern musical staples.
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