June 21, 2009 / 7:20 PM / 10 years ago

Israel's richest woman gets messages, has visions

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Shari Arison, Israel’s richest woman and the controlling shareholder of the country’s second-largest bank, said on Sunday she has visions and receives messages “from above,” but they do not influence the management of her companies.

A headshot of Bank Hapoalim's controlling shareholder Shari Arison is seen in this undated picture released by Arison's Group May 12, 2009. Arison, Israel's richest woman and the controlling shareholder of the country's second-largest bank, said on Sunday she has visions and receives messages "from above," but they do not influence the management of her companies. REUTERS/Handout

Arison set off an uproar in Israel after she revealed that information in an interview with Channel Two broadcast late on Saturday.

“I get a picture, I can feel it. If it’s fire, I feel like I’m burning. If people are dying I feel pain,” she confirmed in an interview with Reuters.

The Israeli-American Arison along with her brother inherited billions of dollars from her late father Ted Arison, who founded Carnival Corp, the world’s biggest cruise ship operator.

She is the controlling shareholder in Bank Hapoalim and controls Housing and Construction, Israel’s biggest construction company.

She said these visions are meant to help lead the world elsewhere. To this end, she is releasing her first book this week, entitled “Birth - When the Spiritual and the Material Come Together,” which details her journey both spiritually and in business.

She stressed that her visions do not interfere with the running of Hapoalim, in which she has no active role.

“The bank is managed very professionally, there’s a chairman and a board and everything is done according to law. It’s not my visions that run the bank, that’s ridiculous ... there’s nothing to be worried about,” she said.

Shares of Hapoalim, Israel’s second-largest bank, rose 1.6 percent on Sunday.

“When I talk about a vision in business I am talking about you can have a profit, you should be professional but you can give added value,” Arison said.

The central bank declined to comment on Arison’s remarks and said she has not been contacted by them since the interview was aired.

Arison said the messages do influence her personal decisions regarding her assets.

In the book she tells how she was on the verge of selling Housing and Construction when she received a message not to sell “because with this company I could a make a difference with sustainable building,” she said.

Arison said she would not consider at this point selling her stake in Hapoalim or any of her other assets and is looking to invest in ventures in the fields of clean air and clean energy. She already has set up a company to invest in clean water projects.

She begins the book with her premise that the world is “collapsing” because of broad-based greed. The emphasis of the book is that every individual has to take responsibility for making the world a better place.

“I am aware of fact that in Israel there’s a lot of cynicism, a lot of opposition ... I was very much aware that coming out with this book and my visions would create the same thing, cynicism and objection, until people understand.”

Arison, who is also known in Israel for her philanthropy, said two years ago she got a message that there would be an economic crisis and people would go crazy.

But after years of seeing catastrophes she now believes the world is moving towards a better future.

“For the past year I’ve been seeing peace and happiness,” she said. “I don’t know when that will happen. I know I have a role to tell people ... Everyone has to make it happen.”

Editing by Maureen Bavdek

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