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Mohamed Al-Fayed, the billionaire former Harrods owner who waged a war of words with British royalty, dies at 94 | cnn


Mohamed Al FayedHe’s Dead, the outspoken Egyptian tycoon who turned the fortunes of two London institutions, Harrods department store and Fulham Football Club, and waged a war of words with British royalty after his son was killed in a car crash alongside Diana, the princess of wales , according to a statement from his family. He was 94 years old.

“Ms. Mohamed Al Fayed, her children and grandchildren wish to confirm that her beloved husband, father and grandfather, Mohamed, passed away peacefully of old age on Wednesday, August 30, 2023,” read the family statement, published by fulham. FC on Friday, she said.

Al-Fayed carved his way into London’s high society by buying several lavish establishments after coming to the UK in the 1970s, and also owned the historic Ritz Hotel in Paris for four decades.

But he turned out to be an increasingly controversial figure during his public fight for British citizenship, and even more so after the death of Diana and her son, Dodi Fayed, in Paris in 1997.

Al-Fayed insisted for decades that the couple were murdered, despite investigations finding otherwise, and was dismissive of the British royal family in later life.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1929, Al-Fayed seized the business opportunities that came his way during his brief marriage to Samira Khashoggi, a Saudi author and sister of billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

After working with Adnan Khashoggi and creating his own shipping company, Al-Fayed moved to London and began building a large real estate portfolio focused on luxury destinations.

In 2021, his net worth was around $1.8 billion, according to Forbes. His business interests included Punch Magazine, Kurt Geiger, the Manhattan skyscraper 75 Rockefeller Plaza, and the luxury Hyde Park Residence apartment block in London.

But the jewel in its billion-dollar crown was the famed Harrods department store, which stretches an entire block in London’s prestigious Mayfair neighborhood and has been the city’s most glamorous shopping destination for decades.

Al-Fayed’s highly publicized bid for the House of Fraser group, which included the store, saw him go head-to-head with controversial British tycoon Roland “Tiny” Rowland, with the pair embroiled in several rounds of public smears.

Ultimately, Al-Fayed bought the group in a $842 million deal. He often compared the famous department store to one of the ancient wonders of the world. “Harrods is my pyramid,” he told CNN in 2004.

Meanwhile, the tycoon became as famous for his acrimonious relationship with the British establishment as for his investments.

For decades he publicly fought for British citizenship, a quest that began when Rowland raised questions in public about the source of your income. Then, in 1994, he sparked a political scandal when he named British lawmakers who had accepted money from him in exchange for asking questions in Parliament on his behalf.

After 1997, when a car accident claimed the lives of his son and Diana, Al-Fayed frequently insulted the British royal family and became persona non grata among sections of the country’s elite.

“I live in a country where I feel sorry for ordinary people and the masses of people who live in this country. Their destiny and their human rights are hijacked by gangsters and people who call themselves the establishment,” he once told CNN.

In the inquest into Diana’s death in 2008, he called the group a “Dracula family”. He promised in vain for years to find evidence to contradict official findings about the car accident that killed the princess, telling the same court that she would not rest “until she dies” even if she lost “everything to find the truth.”

His relationship with the royal family was portrayed in the fifth season of “The Crown” last year.

Al-Fayed was questioned by police in 2008 in connection with a sexual assault allegation which he denied, a Harrods spokesman said. At the time. He finally sold the store to the Qatari royal family in 2010, it was reported. $2.25 billion.

The tycoon also became a major player in the world’s most popular sport, buying London’s oldest football club, Fulham, as it languished in England’s lower leagues.

Sometimes he could hardly resist his ostentatious and opulent tendencies, as when he erected a golden statue of Michael Jackson at Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium, a tribute to his pop superstar friend.

But the team’s fans remain grateful for the financial investments that lifted the team from the doldrums of English play to the Premier League and a major European final; The mogul’s name is still chanted weekly in the stands at Fulham matches, at least ten years after he sold the club.

Al-Fayed had six children, including Dodi and environmental businessman Omar Fayed.

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