Mohamed Al Fayed has long been a prominent and often controversial figure in Britain. Former owner of the iconic London department store Harrods, the billionaire over the years has counted among his many holdings the Ritz Hotel in Paris, the Fulham Football Club, a Parisian villa once owned by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and a 65,000-acre estate in Scotland. However, to many, he may be best known as the father of Princess Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed, who died alongside her in the tragic car crash that claimed her life in 1997.
Here we look inside the life of the man who introduced Dodi and Diana.
Over the years, Fayed (“al” was reportedly added to his name after he moved to England in the 1970s) has spoken in various ways about his childhood, including that he comes from a family of wealthy Egyptian cotton growers and was raised by an English nanny, however these claims, along with the claim that he was born in 1933, turned out to be false, according to a report from the British Department of Trade and Industry. The report claimed that he was actually born in 1929. His father appears to have been either a school teacher or a school inspector.
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In 1954, he married Samira Khashoggi (sister of Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi), with whom he had one child, Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Menaem Fayed, better known as Dodi. The couple later divorced.
He briefly ran a shipping business before becoming an adviser to the Sultan of Brunei in the 1960s, who was then often cited as one of the richest men in the world. In the 70s, Fayed moved to England, where he spent most of his life.
For a time, Fayed worked for the Lonrho mining conglomerate, and in 1979 he bought the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris.
He married Heini Waten, a Finnish model and actress, in 1985, the same year he added Harrods department store to his collection of assets. The couple has four children in common.
In 1985 he bought the parent company Harrods.
In March of that year, Al Fayed Investment and Trust, a private company led by Fayed and his younger brothers Ali and Salah, acquired a majority stake in House of Fraser, the parent company of Harrods, as well as 100 other departments. stores for approximately $842 million, according to reports at the time.
The sale was controversial: Fayed won a bid from Lonrho, where he had previously worked, to take control of Harrods. Lonro, led by Fayed’s former confidant Roland “Tiny” Rowland, went on to claim that the Fayeds got the deal approved by lying about their funds, including that they transferred hundreds of millions of dollars into their accounts from the Sultan of Brunei. , under a power of attorney issued by the Sultan last year. The Sultan and the Fayeds vehemently denied such claims.
A series of lawsuits and investigations followed, including a report by the UK Department of Trade and Industry which found that “the applicants dishonestly provided false information about their background, their wealth, their business interests and their resources to the Secretary of State, Trading, Press, Council HOF, HOF shareholders and their own advisors” in their bid to purchase the House of Fraser.
Nevertheless, Fayed remained at the helm of Harrods for 25 years until he sold the department store and retired in 2010.
Is Mohamed Al Fayed a British citizen?
Although Fayed has applied for British citizenship at least twice, his applications have consistently been rejected.
In 1994, Fayed named prominent British politicians who he said had taken money or enjoyed free stays at his Ritz Hotel, apparently in retaliation for the rejection of his citizenship application. “I did it to take revenge, to show the people who really run this country what quality they are,” he told Vanity Fair the following year. “It’s only scavengers these days.”
Dodi and Diana
While it’s not entirely clear when or where Fayed first met Princess Diana, his sponsorship of a number of charities and events that the royals have attended over the years has certainly put them in each other’s orbits. “Diana communicates so easily with Mohamed … Mohamed is not one of those who are fascinated by her. They light each other up very well,” said Michael Cole, then director of public relations for Harrods. Vanity Fair in 1995.
In the summer of 1997, Fayed invited the princess to join him, along with Princes William and Prince Harry, on his yacht Jonikal in the south of France. During this trip, Diana became close to her eldest son, Dodi, a film producer for the family company that produced, among other things, films that won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1981. Fire chariots. They started dating, but the romance was embarrassingly brief. On August 31, 1997, Diana and Dodi, along with their driver Henri Paul, died in a car accident in Paris after leaving the Ritz Hotel.
For years after their deaths, Fayed continued to campaign, insisting that the accident was not an accident. He hired his own investigators to investigate the incident and appealed several times the findings of the official French inquiry into the case, which found that the accident was an accident.
Fayed became a vocal proponent of the theory that the British royal family was somehow involved in the deaths of Diana and Dodi, saying that they were motivated by a desire to hide that Diana was pregnant with Dodi’s child at the time of her death and that the two intended to announce about his plans to get married the day after the crash. Those close to Diana have consistently claimed that the allegations of Diana’s pregnancy and plans to marry Dodi are false.
In November 2008, Fayed read a written statement before the Royal Court in which she testified: “She told me she knew that Prince Philip and Prince Charles were trying to get rid of her.” According to The newspaper “New York Timeshe added, “They cleared the decks. They killed her.”
Fayed also reportedly funded a film titled Unlawful killingwhich was screened during the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (although it was not actually an official selection for the festival). The film, intended to tell the true story of Diana’s death cover-up, was shelved a year after it failed to get insurance for US distribution due to fears of potential lawsuits.
What is he doing now?
In 2010, it was announced that Fayed had sold Harrods to Qatar Holdings for £1.5 billion. The move came as a surprise to many – Mohamed was known to be involved with the department store and even spoke of wanting to be buried on top of the building after his death. Harrods also had an exhibition honoring Dodi and Diana, including a bronze statue of the dancing couple. (The statue was reportedly returned to Fayed in 2018.)
When the sale first became known, a spokesman said, “After 25 years as chairman of Harrods, Fayed has decided to step down and spend more time with his children and grandchildren.” However, in a later interview, Fayed himself stated that his decision came after a fight to receive dividends approved by the state-appointed trustee of the brand’s pension fund.
“There came a point where I felt completely disappointed,” he told the Evening Standard. “Of course I’m sad… But, first of all, I can’t stand it. I’m 77 years old, right. I have children, I have grandchildren, you know … I need to rest now. And enjoy “.
In 2013, he also sold the ownership of Fulham Football Club, which he first acquired in 1997, to American auto parts billionaire Shahid Khan for $300 million.
As of August 29, 2022, Forbes estimated his net worth at around $1.9 billion.
Lauren Hubbard is a freelance writer. City and country author of articles on beauty, shopping, entertainment, travel, home decor, wine and cocktails.