Dead at 94: Mohamed Al Fayed, Former Owner of Harrods

Former Harrods CEO Mohamed Al Fayed has passed away at the age of 94. His son Dodi was one of the two people murdered in a car tragedy that also claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales.

His economic empire began in Egypt, and he lived there until the 1970s, when he relocated to the United Kingdom.

His dream of obtaining a passport from his new country was never realized.

He spent his twilight years puzzling over what happened to Dodi and Diana.

Mr. Al Fayed and his wife Heini have spent the previous decade largely out of the public eye, residing in their Surrey mansion.

According to a statement made on Friday, his wife, children, and grandkids confirm that their grandpa, father, and husband, Mohamed, died peacefully of old age on August 30, 2023.

He lived out a long and happy retirement with his family and friends at his side.

Mohamed Al Fayed’s colorful life story

The operaticization of Princess Diana and Dodi’s romance

The Origins of the Harrods Store

Mr. Al Fayed was regarded as “an extraordinary character” by Michael Cole, a former BBC Royal correspondent who later worked for Mr. Al Fayed as director for public affairs at Harrods.

He described Mr. Al Fayed as “fascinating” and “a larger than life” persona who was “full of humanity” on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Mr. Al Fayed was the owner of Fulham Football Club for many years, and the club expressed its “incredibly saddened to learn” of his death.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mohamed’s family and friends during this difficult time, and we will always be grateful for everything he accomplished for our club,” the team said in a statement.

His replacement at the club, Shahid Khan, sent an online tribute to convey his sorrow at his passing.

After Mr. Al Fayed’s tenure as chairman, he remarked, “the chronicle of Fulham cannot be recounted without a chapter on his good impact on the club.

The squad’s elevation to the Premier League, its run to the Europa League final, and other magical individual and team performances are all part of his legacy.

According to journalist Piers Morgan, Al Fayed was a “extraordinary tour de force of a man who never got over the death of his beloved son Dodi in the crash that also killed Diana,” and despite his “flaws” and “complex character,” he was nonetheless liked by Morgan.

From his humble beginnings peddling soda on the streets of his native Alexandria, Egypt, Mr. Al Fayed ascended to become a powerful commercial figure with extensive connections.

His first wife, Samira Khashoggi, is the sister of Saudi rich arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who hired him after meeting him through a mutual friend.

Although his marriage to her lasted barely over two years, Mr. Al Fayed was able to use the position as a stepping stone to new business ties in Egypt and eventually found success with his own shipping enterprise.

In 1966, he accepted a position as advisor to the Sultan of Brunei, then one of the world’s wealthiest individuals.

He first arrived in the UK in 1974, and then, five years later, he and his brother Ali spent twenty million pounds on the Ritz hotel in Paris.

In 1985, they outbid the Lonrho company, a mining giant, by £615m to acquire Harrods.

Fulham F.C., which he owned, advanced from the third division to the premier league.

As the father of five, he demonstrated a special interest in aiding children from disadvantaged backgrounds or with health problems, and he donated liberally to organizations like Great Ormond Street Hospital.

In 1987, he established the Al Fayed Charitable Foundation to help disadvantaged, traumatized, and critically ill children.

Dodi, a film producer, and Diana, Princess of Wales, his then-partner, left his Ritz hotel in Paris before their 1997 automobile crash death.

Mr. Al Fayed was so traumatized by the disaster that he became fixated on theories about the causes of death.

He testified during the inquest that the deaths occurred under the direction of Prince Philip and with the knowledge of MI6 in February of 2008.

After being labeled a “conspiracy theory” by the coroner, the jury agreed.

Mr. Al Fayed was denied British citizenship twice despite his best efforts.

The second time, in 1995, he was so offended by being turned down that he went public with a claim that he had paid off Conservative ministers Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith to raise questions in Parliament on his behalf.

Mr. Hamilton, who denied the claim, also lost a libel case against Mr. Al Fayed, and both he and Mr. Al Fayed resigned from their government posts.

After Mr. Al Fayed revealed that he had stayed for free at the Ritz in Paris at the same time as a group of Saudi arms dealers, a third politician, Jonathan Aitken, who was then a cabinet minister, also resigned.

Mr. Al Fayed sold Harrods to the Qatar Investment Authority in 2010. The debts of the corporation were paid off with about half of the purchase price.

Prof. Kate Williams, a royal historian, said that Mr. Al Fayed was a man with a mission following the death of his son, and that he will be remembered for his transformation of the legendary Harrods shop.

“It was his dream and his baby,” she reflected.

She also said that Mr. Al Fayed’s generosity to hospitals and other organizations was how he first met Princess Diana.

Prof. Williams said on BBC Breakfast, “He was a very significant force in British life,” and that he was a person who “would not be forgotten.”

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