Mohamed Al-Fayed

From Academic Kids

Mohamed Abdel Moneim Fayed (b. January 27, c.1929) is an Egyptian-born, Swiss-based Tycoon. He styles himself Mohamed al-Fayed, the al being an Arabic honorific designation which some of his critics contest he is not entitled to.

Mohamed al-Fayed is the owner of Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, London, also the English Premiership football team, Fulham Football Club along with other business interests. He relaunched Punch magazine in 1996, only to see it fail and close again in 2002.

Born in Bakos (باكوس), a poor neighborhood in eastern Alexandria, the eldest son of a poor primary school teacher, he took up a number of jobs, from selling Coca-Cola on the streets of his home city to working as a sewing machine salesman, and as a teacher.

Later he made his money when he married the sister of the international trader and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi who employed him in his import business in Saudi Arabia. After growing his circles of influence in UAE, Haiti, and London, Fayed established his own shipping company in Egypt, before becoming a financial adviser to one of the world's richest men, the Sultan of Brunei, in 1966.

He arrived in Britain in 1974, adding the honorific al- to his name (earning the Private Eye nickname "the Phoney Pharaoh") and briefly joining the board of the mining conglomerate Lonrho in 1975.

In 1979 al-Fayed bought the Hôtel Ritz Paris and in 1985 he and his brother Ali bought Harrods for £615m. The Harrods deal was made under the nose of Roland 'Tiny' Rowland, the head of Lonrho, who took the Al-Fayeds to a Department of Trade inquiry. The inquiry -which is considered one of the most bitter feuds in British business history- reporting in 1990, stated that the brothers had lied about their background and wealth. The bickering with Rowland continued when he accused them of stealing millions in jewels from his Harrods safe deposit box. Rowland died but al-Fayed settled the dispute with a payment to his widow. Al-Fayed had been arrested during the dispute and sued the Metropolitan Police for false arrest in 2002. He lost the case.

For years he has unsuccessfully requested British citizenship. Both Labour and Conservative Home Secretaries have repeatedly rejected his claims on the grounds that he was not of good character which resulted in him taking the matter to court. He has given millions to charities such as Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He was involved in the cash for questions scandal, having offered the Conservative MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith money for asking questions in Parliament. He provided MP Jonathan Aitken's bill from the Ritz Hotel in Paris to Peter Preston at The Guardian, thus destroying Aitken's libel case against the newspaper and resulting in a perjury conviction for Aitken. He has a long running feud with Private Eye magazine, which, dubbing him the "Phoney Pharaoh", has often reported his alleged business malpractices and heavy-handed methods of dealing with staff at Harrods and in his other business ventures.

Al-Fayed's son, the late film producer Dodi was dating Diana, Princess of Wales in her last days, and was killed in the same car crash in Paris in 1997. He has since made repeated allegations that the deaths were not accidental, but rather the result of a wide-ranging conspiracy involving the Duke of Edinburgh, MI5 and others; which have led to Harrods losing all of its Royal Warrants.

In 2003, after many years of professing his love of Britain, Al-Fayed moved from the UK to Switzerland, alleging a breach of an agreement with Her Majesty's Inland Revenue Commissioners. In Jan 2005 a Geneva newspaper said he decided to move to Monaco to take advantage of a more favorable tax climate.

Mahmoud Abdel Aziz -a famous Egyptian actor- excelled in a role that was based on Mohamed Al-Fayed's bio in the TV series "Mahmoud El-Masry" (2004); which aired simultaneously across Arabic-language satellite TV stations during the prime time of the month of Ramadan.

In 2005 Mohamed took part in a television documentary made by Keith Allen, being interviewed extensively about his views on the British Royal Family, Princess Diana, Harrods, and his lifestyle.

Al-Fayed has four British children from his second wife. He has an estimated fortune of between $880 million and $1.3 billion.

A closely-researched and controversial book, Fayed: The Unauthorized Biography by Tom Bower, portrays Al-Fayed as a pathological liar and fantasist.

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