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The death of Egyptian-British businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed

وفاة رجل الأعمال المصري البريطاني محمد الفايد

Mohamed Al-Fayed, the former Harrods chairman whose son Dodi was killed in a car accident alongside Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, has died at the age of 94.

Born in Egypt, Al-Fayed built a business empire in the Middle East before moving to the UK in the 1970s.

However, he did not achieve his ambition of obtaining a British passport, and spent his final years questioning the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Dodi and Diana.

Al-Fayed has remained largely out of the limelight over the past decade, living in his palace with his wife. His family said in a statement issued on Friday: “Mrs Al-Fayed, her children and grandchildren would like to confirm that her beloved husband, their father and grandfather Mohammed, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, August 30, 2023. He enjoyed a long and enjoyable retirement and was surrounded by his loved ones.”

Fulham Football Club, which Al-Fayed owned for many years, said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of his death.

“We owe Mohamed a debt of gratitude for what he has done for our club, and our sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time,” the statement read. His successor at the club, Shahid Khan, expressed his sincere condolences.

"The Fulham story cannot be told without mentioning the positive influence of Mr Al Fayed as president," he said.

He adds: "We will remember his legacy after we rise to the English Premier League and the European League final." Khan said Al-Fayed was “wise, versatile and committed to Fulham” and that his legacy “will always be at the heart of our tradition”.

Mr. Al-Fayed rose from selling soft drinks on the streets of his hometown of Alexandria in Egypt to become a big name in business.

Al-Fayed met his first wife, Samira Khashoggi, the sister of millionaire Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who employed him in his import company in Saudi Arabia.

This site helped him form new relationships in Egypt, and although the marriage did not last more than two years, Mr. Al-Fayed went on to launch his own shipping company.

In 1966, he became an advisor to one of the richest men in the world, the Sultan of Brunei.

He moved to Britain in 1974, and five years later he bought the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Paris with his brother Ali for 20 million pounds sterling.

They then acquired Harrods in 1985 for £615 million, after a fierce bidding war with mining giant Lonrho.

Under his ownership, Fulham rose from the third tier to the Premier League.

Al-Fayed donated a large sum to charities including Great Ormond Street Hospital, and as a father of five, he showed a special interest in helping sick children.

He established the Al Fayed Charitable Foundation in 1987 to improve the lives of poor, traumatized and sick young people.

From the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Paris, his son Dodi, a film producer, and his then partner Diana, Princess of Wales, left before the car accident that claimed their lives in 1997.

Al-Fayed never recovered from the shock of the accident, and became obsessed with speculation surrounding the circumstances of his death.

His evidence at the inquiry in February 2008 included allegations that the incident was on orders from Prince Philip and in collusion with British intelligence.

The coroner deemed it a "conspiracy theory" and the jury rejected it.

Al-Fayed twice failed in his attempt to obtain British citizenship, and the second time in 1995, he told the press, angry at the rejection, that he had paid money to two Conservative ministers, Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith, to ask questions in the House of Commons about this issue. .

Both left government, and Hamilton, who denied the allegation, lost a libel case against Al-Fayed.

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

In 2010, Al-Fayed sold Harrods to Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, and nearly half of the purchase price was used to pay off the company's debts.

Source: BBC



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