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Riad Al Solh

Riad El Solh
رياض الصلح
Solh in 1943
Prime Minister of Lebanon
In office
14 December 1946 – 14 February 1951
PresidentBechara El Khoury
Preceded bySaadi Al Munla
Succeeded byHussein Al Oweini
In office
25 September 1943 – 10 January 1945
PresidentBechara El Khoury
Preceded byPetro Trad
Succeeded byAbdul Hamid Karami
Minister of Finance
In office
25 September 1943 – 10 January 1945
PresidentBechara El Khoury
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byHamid Franjieh
Personal details
Born17 August 1894
Sidon, Ottoman Empire
Died17 July 1951(1951-07-17) (aged 56)
Amman, Jordan
Political partyCommittee of Union and Progress
Constitutional Bloc
SpouseFayza Al Jabiri
ChildrenFive daughters: Leila Al Solh, Alia Al Solh, Bahija Al Solh, Lamia Al Solh, Muna Al Solh;
Alma materUniversity of Paris

Riad Reda Al Solh (Arabic: رياض الصلح; 17 August 1894 – 17 July 1951) was the first prime minister of Lebanon after the country's independence.[1][2][3] Solh was one of the most important figures in Lebanon's struggle for independence, who was able to unite the various religious groups. He is considered one of the founders of Lebanon.

Early life

Riad Al Solh, also written Riad el Solh or Riad Solh, was born in Sidon, south Lebanon and of Egyptian origin, on 17 August 1894.[1][3] His father, Reda Al Solh, was Vice-governor in Nabatiyyah and in Sidon and a leading nationalist Arab leader.[4] In 1915 Reda Al Solh was tried by Ottoman forces and went into exile in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire.[4] He also served as Minister of the Interior in Emir Faisal's government in Damascus.[5]

Riad Al Solh studied law and political science at the University of Paris.[1] He spent most of his youth in Istanbul, as his father was a deputy in the Ottoman Parliament.[5]


A statue of Riad Al Solh stands in Beirut's Downtown district

Solh served as prime minister of Lebanon twice. His first term was just after the Lebanon's independence (25 September 1943 – 10 January 1945).[6] Solh was chosen by president Bishara Al Khouri to be his first Prime Minister.[7] Solh and Khouri achieved and implemented the National Pact (al Mithaq al Watani) in November 1943 that provided an official framework to accommodate the confessional differences in Lebanon.[8][9][10] The National Pact was an unwritten gentleman's agreement.[11] The Pact stated that president, prime minister and Speaker of the Parliament in Lebanon should be allocated to three major confessional groups based on the 1932 census, namely the Maronite Christians, the Sunni Muslims and the Shiite Muslims, respectively.[11] During his first term, Solh also served as the Minister of Finance from September 1943 to July 1944,[12] and the minister of supplies and reserves from 3 July 1944 to 9 January 1945.[13]

Solh held premiership again from 14 December 1946 to 14 February 1951[14] again under the presidency of Bishara Al Khouri.[15] Solh was critical of King Abdullah and played a significant role in granting the blessing of the Arab League's political committee to the All-Palestine Government during his second term.[16]


Solh escaped unhurt from an assassination attempt in March 1950.[4][17] It was perpetrated by a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.[4]

However, several months after leaving office, he was gunned down on 17 July 1951 at Marka Airport in Amman by members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.[18][14] The attack was perpetrated by three gunmen, who killed him in revenge for the execution of Anton Saadeh, one of the party's founding leaders.[19][20][21]

Personal life

He secretly converted to Shia Islam since, compared to Sunni Islam, its inheritance laws meant that his daughters, his only children, could inherit a greater share of his wealth.[22][23]

Al Solh was married to Fayza Al Jabiri, the sister of two-time prime minister of Syria, Saadallah al-Jabiri.[24] They had five daughters and a son, Reda, who died in infancy.[4] His eldest daughter, Aliya (1935–2007), continued in her father's path in the struggle for a free and secure Lebanon. Aliya propagated the rich cultural heritage of Lebanon abroad until her death in Paris.

Lamia Al Solh (born 1937) was married to the late Prince Moulay Abdallah of Morocco, King Mohammed VI's uncle.[25] Her children are Moulay Hicham, Moulay Ismail and a daughter Lalla Zineb.

Mona Al Solh was formerly married to the Saudi Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz.[26][27] She is the mother of the Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, Prince Khalid bin Talal and Princess Reema bint Talal.[26][28]

Bahija Al Solh Assad is married to Said Al Assad who is the former Lebanese ambassador to Switzerland and a former member of parliament. They have two sons and two daughters.

His youngest daughter, Leila Al Solh Hamade, was appointed as one of the first two female ministers in Omar Karami's government.[29]


Patrick Seale's book The Struggle for Arab Independence (2011) deals with the history of the Middle East from the final years of the Ottoman Empire up to the 1950s and focuses on the influential career and personality of Solh.[5] A square in downtown Beirut, Riad al-Solh Square,[30] is named after him.[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Riad al-Solh commemorated with launch of biography". The Daily Star. 6 March 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Mugraby, Muhamad (July 2008). "The syndrome of one-time exceptions and the drive to establish the proposed Hariri court". Mediterranean Politics. 13 (2): 171–194. doi:10.1080/13629390802127513. S2CID 153915546. Pdf. Archived 12 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "More than a century on: how Riad Al Solh's legacy lives on in Lebanon today". The National (Abu Dhabi). 17 August 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e Kechichian, Joseph A. (11 June 2009). "Resolute fighter for freedom". Gulf News. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Interview with Patrick Seale". The Global Dispatches. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Rulers of Lebanon". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  7. ^ Türedi, Almula (Spring–Summer 2008). "Lebanon: at the edge of another civil war" (PDF). Perceptions: 21–36. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  8. ^ Leila Tarazi Fawaz (6 February 1995). An Occasion for War: Civil Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860. University of California Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-520-08782-8. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  9. ^ Philip G. Roeder; Donald S. Rothchild (2005). Sustainable Peace: Power And Democracy After Civil Wars. Cornell University Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-8014-8974-7. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  10. ^ Hudson, Michael C. (January 1969). "Democracy and Social Mobilization in Lebanese Politics". Comparative Politics. 1 (2): 245–263. doi:10.2307/421387. JSTOR 421387.
  11. ^ a b Vanessa E. Shields; Nicholas Baldwin (2008). Beyond Settlement: Making Peace Last After Civil Conflict. Associated University Presse. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-8386-4183-5. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Former Ministers". 18 December 2019. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Former Ministers". Ministry of Economy and Trade. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  14. ^ a b Kamil Dib, "Warlords and Merchants, The Lebanese Business and Political Establishment", p. 89
  15. ^ "Political leaders of Lebanon". Terra. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  16. ^ Shlaim, Avi (Autumn 1990). "The Rise and Fall of the All-Palestine Government in Gaza". Journal of Palestine Studies. 20 (1): 37–53. doi:10.2307/2537321. JSTOR 2537321.
  17. ^ Knudsen, Are (March 2010). "Acquiescence to assassinations in post-civil war Lebanon?". Mediterranean Politics. 15 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1080/13629391003644611. S2CID 154792218.
  18. ^ R. Hrair Dekmejian (1975). Patterns of Political Leadership: Egypt, Israel, Lebanon. SUNY Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-87395-291-0. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Six major leaders killed in Lebanon since 1943". The Telegraph. 2 June 1987. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  20. ^ Kliot, N. (January 1987). "The collapse of the Lebanese state". Middle Eastern Studies. 23 (1): 54–74. doi:10.1080/00263208708700688. JSTOR 4283154.
  21. ^ Tim Llewellyn (1 June 2010). Spirit of the Phoenix: Beirut and the Story of Lebanon. I.B.Tauris. pp. xiii. ISBN 978-1-84511-735-1. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  22. ^ Youssef Courbage; Emmanuel Todd (2014). A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World (illustrated ed.). Columbia University Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780231150033.
  23. ^ Marie-Claude Thomas (2012). Women in Lebanon: Living with Christianity, Islam, and Multiculturalism (illustrated ed.). Springer. pp. 147, 222. ISBN 9781137281999.
  24. ^ The Middle East enters the twenty-first century, By Robert Owen Freedman, Baltimore University 2002, page 218.
  25. ^ "Video: Wedding of Prince Moulay Abdellah and Lamia Solh". 16 June 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  26. ^ a b Henderson, Simon (27 August 2010). "The Billionaire Prince". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  27. ^ Moubayed, Sami (1 February 2011). "Lebanon cabinet: A tightrope act". Lebanon Wire. Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  28. ^ Mamoun Fandy (2007). (Un)civil War of Words: Media and Politics in the Arab World. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-275-99393-1. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  29. ^ "Leila Al Solh" (PDF). World Association of girl guides and girl scoutes. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  30. ^ Young, M., The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon's Life Struggle (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), p. 129.
  31. ^ "The Killing Will Continue Until ,C*". Dar Al Hayat. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
Political offices Preceded by— Prime Minister of Lebanon 1943–1945 Succeeded byAbdul Hamid Karami Preceded bySaadi Al Munla Prime Minister of Lebanon 1946–1951 Succeeded byHussein Al Oweini
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Riad Al Solh
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