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Mohamed Al-Fayed, whose global career has influenced Hollywood, Paris, London and his native Egypt, passed away on Thursday 30 August at the age of 94.
His major business successes include owning the iconic Harrods department store in the UK, the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and Fulham Football Club in the UK.
But those achievements were almost overshadowed by his relationship with Princess Diana, who died in a car accident on August 31, 1997, with Al-Fayed’s son, Dodi, with whom she had an affair.
Mohamed Al-Fayed’s role in this pairing and his friendship with Diana were covered extensively in the final season of the Netflix series about the royal family, the crown. It also lends an eerie undertone to his death, which comes very close to the anniversary of the fatal crash that took the lives of Dodi and Diana.
In the years since the incident, Al-Fayed has faced criticism in the UK for claiming that the incident was a murder ordered by the royal family and British intelligence, which acted because the couple were about to marry. The crash, which was allegedly caused by a high-speed attempt to avoid the paparazzi, has been widely investigated without any evidence of Al-Fayed’s claims.
Al-Fayed established a close relationship with the late Princess of Wales as they were both involved in the same charities and attending similar events.
Comments came from Al-Fayed’s commercial property following the announcement of his death.
“Everyone at Fulham was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our former owner and chairman, Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We owe Mohamed a debt of gratitude for what he has done for our club, and our thoughts are now with his family and friends at this difficult time,” Fulham said in a statement on social media.
The Egyptian businessman sold the football club in 2013, shortly after selling Harrods in 2010. He bought the Ritz Hotel in Paris that was on the verge of bankruptcy for $30 million, and invested $250 million in renovating the hotel.
Al-Fayed was born in 1929 in the Rushdie neighborhood of Alexandria in the Kingdom of Egypt, as he was called before the Egyptian Revolution in 1952. He added the fancy prefix “Al” to his surname in the 1970s.
Before buying Harrods, he owned a shipping business in Egypt, eventually opening an office in London.
While Al-Fayed was engaged in his international business, his son, Dodi, was exploring Hollywood.
In 1979, Al-Fayed established a film production company, Allied Stars Ltd., and appointed his son Dodi as CEO.
The Son’s Project resulted in seven Academy Awards in 1982 for Chariots of Fire, including Best Picture. The rest of the company’s production did not fare well at the box office.
Al-Fayed was married twice: the first to Saudi writer Samira Khashoggi from 1953 to 1956, and he had a son, Dodi.
In 1985, he married Finnish socialite and former model Henny Watten, with whom he had four more children: Yasmine, Karim, Kamila, and Omar.
Funeral services were held at London’s Central Mosque in Regent’s Park on Friday, following Islamic traditions to bury the dead as quickly as possible, ideally within 24 hours.
He was then buried at Barrow Green Court, his 17th-century country heap, in Uxstead, Surrey, in the family mausoleum, next to his son Dodi.
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