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Former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed dies at 94

Egyptian businessman and Ritz hotel owner Mohamed Al Fayed poses with his hotel staff in Paris in June 2016
Egyptian businessman and Ritz hotel owner Mohamed Al Fayed poses with his hotel staff in Paris in June 2016 Copyright Kamil Zihnioglu/The AP
Copyright Kamil Zihnioglu/The AP
By Euronews with AP
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The Egyptian business tycoon was equally well known for his reaction to the car crash which killed his son alongside Princess Diana.

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Mohamed Al Fayed, the flamboyant Egypt-born businessman whose son was killed in a car crash with Princess Diana, died this week, his family said Friday. He was 94.

Al Fayed, the longtime owner of Harrods department store and the Fulham Football Club, was devastated by the death of son Dodi Fayed in the car crash in Paris with Diana 26 years ago. He spent years mourning the loss and fighting the British establishment he blamed for their deaths.

“Mrs Mohamed Al Fayed, her children and grandchildren wish to confirm that her beloved husband, their father and their grandfather, Mohamed, has passed away peacefully of old age on Wednesday August 30, 2023,″ his family said in a statement released by the Fulham club. “He enjoyed a long and fulfilled [sic] retirement surrounded by his loved ones.″

Al Fayed was convinced Dodi and Diana were killed in a conspiracy masterminded by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He maintained the royal family arranged the accident because they did not like Diana dating an Egyptian. 

Al Fayed claimed that Diana was pregnant and planning to marry Dodi and that the royal family could not countenance the princess marrying a Muslim.

Simon Dawson/The AP
Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed waves to the crowd before an English Premier League match in 2008Simon Dawson/The AP

In 2008, Al Fayed told an inquest the list of alleged conspirators included Philip, two former London police chiefs and the CIA.

The inquest concluded that Diana and Dodi died because of the reckless actions of their driver - an employee of the Ritz Hotel owned by Al Fayed - and paparazzi chasing the couple. Separate inquiries in the U.K. and France also concluded there was no conspiracy.

Al Fayed's relationship with the royal family was recently depicted in season five of ‘The Crown’, in which the billionaire, played by Salim Daw, gets to know Diana.

The son of a school inspector, Al Fayad was born in 1929, in Alexandria, Egypt. After early investments in shipping in Italy and the Middle East, he moved to Britain in the 1960s and started building an empire.

At the height of his wealth, Al Fayed owned the Ritz hotel in Paris and Fulham football team in London as well as Harrods, the luxury department store.

The Sunday Times Rich List, which documents the fortunes of Britain’s wealthiest people, put the family’s fortune at £1.7 billion (or €1.9bn) this year, ranking Al Fayed as the 104th richest person in the country.

Al Fayed was a key player in the ‘cash for questions’ scandal that roiled British politics in the 1990s.

He was sued for libel by British MP Neil Hamilton, after the businessman claimed he had given Hamilton envelopes of cash and a lavish stay at the Ritz in Paris, in return for asking questions in the House of Commons.

Hamilton’s lawyer, Desmond Browne, claimed the allegation was fantasy, saying: ″If there were Olympic medals for lying, Mr. Fayed would be a prime contender for a gold one”.

A jury found in Al Fayed’s favour in December 1999.

He was never accepted by the British establishment. The government twice rejected his applications for citizenship, though the reasons were never released publicly.

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