Mohamed Al-Fayed was a self-made Egyptian businessman who amassed a fortune by acquiring some of the most prestigious properties and businesses in the world, such as the Harrods department store in London, the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and the Fulham Football Club.
He was also known for his controversial and outspoken personality, his long-running feud with the British royal family, and his tragic loss of his son Dodi and Princess Diana in a car crash in 1997.
In this article, we will explore Mohamed Al-Fayed biography, wife and children, net worth and achievements, and his legacy and influence.
Mohamed Al-Fayed Biography
Early Life and Education
Mohamed Al-Fayed was born on January 27, 1929, in Alexandria, Egypt, when it was still part of the British Empire.
He was the eldest son of an Egyptian primary school teacher from Asyut.
His year of birth has been disputed, as he later claimed to have been born in 1933. Al-Fayed grew up in a modest but comfortable environment, and developed an interest in business from an early age.
He attended Victoria College, a prestigious British-style school in Alexandria, where he learned English and French.
He also excelled in sports, especially soccer.
Mohamed Al-Fayed graduated from high school in 1947 and enrolled in the University of Alexandria to study law. However, he dropped out after one year to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions.
Career and Business Ventures
Mohamed Al-Fayed started his career as a clerk at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Alexandria.
He then moved to Genoa, Italy, where he worked as a salesman for Singer sewing machines. He also established his own shipping company, Genevaco, with offices in London.
In 1954, he married Samira Khashoggi, the sister of Saudi Arabian arms dealer and businessman Adnan Khashoggi.
He worked with his brother-in-law for several years, gaining access to lucrative deals and contacts in the Middle East. He also changed his name from Fayed to Al-Fayed, adding the Arabic prefix “al-” to imply aristocratic origins.
In 1974, he moved to Britain with his family and began acquiring various properties and businesses. He bought the Hôtel Ritz Paris in 1979 for $30 million, restoring it to its former glory.
He also bought the Hyde Park Residence block of luxury apartments in London for $50 million.
The most famous acquisition of Mohamed Al-Fayed’s career was the Harrods department store in London, which he bought in 1985 for $842 million after a bitter takeover battle with British tycoon Roland “Tiny” Rowland.
He transformed Harrods into a world-class shopping destination, attracting millions of visitors every year. He also added several memorials to his son Dodi and Princess Diana inside the store after their deaths.
Al-Fayed also ventured into other fields, such as media, entertainment, sports, and philanthropy.
He owned Punch magazine from 1996 to 2002, produced several movies such as Chariots of Fire (1981) and Hook (1991), owned Fulham Football Club from 1997 to 2013, donated millions of pounds to various charities and causes, and supported several political campaigns.
Wife and Children
Mohamed Al-Fayed married twice in his life – initially to first wife Samira Khashoggi, whom he married in 1954 and divorced in 1956. They had one son together, Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Moneim Al-Fayed, better known as Dodi Fayed (1955-1997).
Dodi was a film producer who had a brief romantic relationship with Princess Diana before they both died in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
The second wife of Mohamed Al-Fayed was Heini Wathén, a Finnish socialite and former model whom he married in 1985.
They had four children together: Jasmine Al-Fayed (born 1986), Karim Al-Fayed (born 1987), Camilla Al-Fayed (born 1988), and Omar Al-Fayed (born 1989).
Jasmine is a fashion designer who owns her own boutique in London. Karim is a businessman who manages some of the family’s properties. Camilla is a philanthropist who supports various causes such as animal welfare and environmental protection. Omar is a private person who keeps a low profile.
Net Worth and Awards
According to Forbes, Mohamed Al-Fayed had a net worth of $1.9 billion as of 2021, making him one of the richest people in the world.
He made most of his fortune from his ownership of Harrods, which he sold to Qatar for a reported $2.4 billion in 2010. He also sold Fulham Football Club to U.S. billionaire Shahid Khan for a reported $300 million in 2013. He still owns the Ritz Hotel in Paris, which is valued at over $1 billion.
Mohamed Al-Fayed also received several awards and honors for his achievements and contributions.
He was awarded the Plaque de Paris, the city’s highest honor, in 1989 for his restoration of the Ritz Hotel. He was also awarded the Order of the Nile, Egypt’s highest civilian honor, in 2002 for his charitable work and support for Egyptian causes. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture for Chariots of Fire in 1982.
Mohamed Al-Fayed died on August 30, 2023, at the age of 94, from natural causes. He passed away peacefully at his home in London, surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren. His family issued a statement confirming his death and expressing their grief and gratitude.
Mohamed Al-Fayed left behind a legacy of success and controversy.
He was a self-made billionaire who achieved his dreams and ambitions through hard work and determination.
He was also a controversial and outspoken figure, notably due to challenging the British establishment and the royal family. He was a grieving father who never accepted the official verdict on his son’s and Princess Diana’s deaths.
Mohamed Al-Fayed was a man who lived a remarkable life and left an indelible mark on the world. He will be remembered as a visionary businessman, a passionate philanthropist, and a loving husband and father.
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