Often described as the Duke of Nablus or Palestine’s Rothschild, Masri is known as the patriarch of a prominent Palestinian family that has produced bankers, consultants and politicians. Masri, a geologist, hails from the West Bank town of Nablus from where he resides at his Palestine House, a palace of limestone resembling the Palladian-style Villa La Rotonda in Vicenza, Italy. Masri, who was once a close confidant of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (who offered him the premiership three times), made his fortune in oil and gas working in the Gulf region, North Africa and elsewhere.
When the Oslo peace process kicked off Masri helped set up the Palestine Development and Investment Ltd. (PADICO), the largest private investor by initial investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which he chairs. The holding group controls over 30 companies across various industries that include telecommunications, construction, tourism, energy, environment, banking, finance and agriculture. He also founded the Edgo group (industry, commerce, health, education, distribution), which oversees 29 companies across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Masri, who is a member of the Palestine Central Council, is also a philanthropist.
Rafiq Hariri’s eldest son, Bahaa, chose not to follow his father’s path into politics and instead forged his own career in business. He currently resides in Geneva, and derives the bulk of his fortune from investment management. Other sectors include real estate development and logistics. His real estate arm, Horizon Development, focuses on commercial projects in Jordan and Lebanon. Horizon Development is a major shareholder in the Abdali Investment and Development Company, responsible for the development of a 20 million sq ft mixed-use project in Amman, worth about $5bn.
As the eldest son of the late Lebanese premier, Rafiq Hariri, Bahaa has made considerable efforts to continue his father’s legacy. Part of that drive has included sponsorship of the Atlantic Council’s Rafiq Hariri Centre for the Middle East, a body that seeks to bind the region’s political and economic ties with the transatlantic nations.