02 September 2023

Mohamed Al Fayed: 10 fascinating facts from Princess Diana to Michael Jackson

02 September 2023

Following the death of Mohamed Al Fayed, we take a look at the fascinating history of the controversial Egyptian businessman.

1. Before he began the era as the proprietor of Harrods, Mohamed Al Fayed's first business venture was selling soda pop in Alexandria, Egypt before going on to become a sewing machine salesman.

2. He bought Fulham Football Club in London for £6.25m in 1997 and declared his intention to make them a Premier League football club within five years. He did it in four.

3. Al Fayed maintained that the car crash in a Paris tunnel which killed his son Dodi and Princess Diana was a result of a conspiracy. He went on to say the crash had been orchestrated by MI6 on the instructions of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

4. He commissioned a bronze statue entitled "Innocent Victims," displayed at Harrods until 2018, to immortalise their memory and strengthen his fervent quest for justice.

5. One of his more bizarre gestures was the unveiling of a statue of legendary singer Michael Jackson at Fulham's Craven Cottage ground in 2011. Jackson had attended a game in 1999. Following criticism of the statue, Al-Fayed said: "If some stupid fans don't understand and appreciate such a gift this guy gave to the world they can go to hell. I don't want them to be fans."

6. Al-Fayed was over the years accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault. Young women applying for employment at Harrods were often submitted to HIV tests and gynaecological examinations. They were then selected to spend the weekend with Al-Fayed in Paris.

7. He had an ongoing feud with the British establishment, primarily due to its refusal to grant him a UK passport. He applied for British citizenship twice, in 1994 and 1999, and was rejected on both occasions.

8. At some point in the early 1970s, he began using "Al-Fayed" rather than "Fayed". Commentators have assumed that the addition of "Al-" was to imply aristocratic origins. It earned him the nickname of 'Phoney Pharaoh' from Private Eye magazine.

9. In 2009, he revealed that he was a supporter of Scottish independence, telling the Scots that "It's time for you to waken up and detach yourselves from the English and their terrible politicians...whatever help is needed for Scotland to regain its independence, I will provide it...when you Scots regain your freedom, I am ready to be your president."

10. In 1994 Fayed revealed the names of MPs he had paid to ask questions in Parliament on his behalf, but who had failed to declare their fees. It became known as the 'cash for questions affair, and led to Conservative MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith having to leave the Government in disgrace.

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