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Tamer Salman

From Beirut to Jeddah: Hariri’s financial troubles triggers employee revolt

Hariri visits the Future TV office in Beirut (Source: Twitter/@SaadHariri)

It is no secret that former prime minister Saad Hariri has been having major financial problems for a few years now – ranging back to the start of the decade. In 2011, Hariri left the country after a strategic collective-resignation coup by March 8 members which toppled his government. He left Beirut for Saudi Arabia allegedly over security concerns, but he was also busy trying to fix the very dire situation of his family’s institutions. Hariri’s financial crisis became evident when stories of the delay of salaries to Future TV and newspaper employees began to surface. Hariri also shut down a 24-hour news channel that had become a financial burden on the family. A couple of months ago,  Hariri finally returned to Lebanon and visited with the employees of his media outlets, posed for selfies with them and praised their loyalty, patience, and endurance during this crisis.

With the start of Ramadan, the patience he praised seems to be reaching its limits. A Facebook post by a Future TV employee describing what he and his fellow colleagues are going through to make ends meet caught the attention of the Lebanese public.

 

In the Facebook post, Mohamad Zein Akil’s recounted the story of a colleague who is being forced out of his house for failing to pay the mortgage due to the delay in salaries; another colleague who is selling some of her furniture so that she and her family can afford the increased expenses that come with the month of Ramadan and stories ranging from workers failing to pay their kids’ tuition to colleagues selling their properties to pay for their children’s higher education.

Akil’s post is a reminder of the heartbreaking situation that the employees of Future TV, and other Hariri institutions in Beirut, are going through. Yet, the most remarkable story related to Hariri’s financial troubles came out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Various media outlets reported tire burning, protests, and even an incident of vandalism on Hariri’s personal office in Jeddah. These incidents are not common in the Saudi Arabia and the consequences will surely be severe for those involved, but that did not stop the employees of Saudi Oger LTD. (Hariri-owned Construction Company) from expressing their anger at not receiving their salaries for months.  

With the political storm that Hariri is facing in Lebanon: Rifi’s win in Tripoli and its repercussions, Machnouk’s comments about Saudi Arabia’s leadership and its impact on Hariri’s deteriorating relationship with the Saudis, and a possible electoral law based on proportionality—which Hariri is opposed to his financial troubles might cause him the most harm.  Especially with the growing signs of contempt from his employees, who might not be able to bear the consequences anymore. As for Hariri’s political future, improving the financial situation of the family is imperative since Hariri’s wealth serves as the backbone of his influence in Lebanon and the Arab world.  

Hariri visits the Future TV office in Beirut (Source: Twitter/@SaadHariri)

Various media outlets reported tire burning, protests, and even an incident of vandalism on Hariri’s personal office in Jeddah.