Mohamed Al-Fayed, the self-made billionaire who owned Harrods and Fulham FC, has died – 26 years to the day after his son died in a car crash in Paris with Princess Diana.
The Egyptian businessman, whose business interests in the UK included Harrods department store and Fulham FC, was 94. Web understands he died on August 31 – exactly 26 years after his son Dodi.
Born in Alexandria, he moved to the UK in the 1960s, where he quickly became a driving force in Dubai’s development. He later bought the House of Fraser, including Harrods, with his brothers, as well as the Ritz Hotel in Paris, which he owned until his death.
A funeral service was held at London’s Central Mosque in Regents Park on Friday – in line with Islamic conventions of burying the dead within 24 hours.
Sources told Web that Mr Al-Fayed died on Thursday evening and that Janazah (funeral) prayers were held at the mosque on Friday.
Mohamed Al Fayed, former owner of Harrods and Fulham FC, has died aged 94
Mr Al Fayed with his son Dodi, who died in the same accident that killed Diana in 1997
Mohamed Al-Fayed pictured with Diana, Princess of Wales at a charity event at Harrods in London in 1996
Mr Al-Fayed later unveiled a statue of Diana and his son Dodi in Harrods commemorating their lives – with the slogan ‘Innocent Victims’ on its plinth.
A memorial service for Mohamed Al Fayed was held at London’s Central Mosque in Regents Park on Friday
The coffin of Mohammed Al Fayed before the service on Friday
“The service went as planned,” a source said. “The prayers took place in the mosque after the Friday prayer – the prayer for the deceased.”
Al Shorouk newspaper reported that Ashraf Haider, a member of his family, wrote: “My wife’s grandfather, Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed, has died.” “We belong to God and to Him we will return.”
Despite his extensive business interests, Mr Al-Fayed was probably best known for his continuous quest for answers to questions surrounding the death of his son Dodi, who died in a car accident on 31 August 1997 – 26 August along with Diana, Princess of Wales died in Paris years before his own death.
Diana and Dodi left the Ritz in Paris in the early hours of August 31 and were being chased away from the paparazzi by Henri Paul, the hotel’s deputy head of security, when Paul lost control of the car and crashed at around 100 km/h a pillar crashed.
Mr Al-Fayed launched his own private investigation into the crash after becoming dissatisfied with the official investigation.
A 2008 investigation concluded that Dodi and Diana were unlawfully killed because Paul was driving under the influence, neither was wearing a seat belt, and because paparazzi had chased them through the streets of Paris in the early hours.
He was later immortalized in the Netflix series The Crown, played by Israeli actor Salim Daw, who will return in the next series to play the businessman that follows the accident involving his son and the princess of Wales died.
An episode of the show follows Mr Al-Fayed’s rise to fame and eventual meeting with Princess Diana, played by Elizabeth Debicki.
Describing him as an “incredible, fascinating character,” Daw told Radio Times, “He’s so motivated to get to the top that it actually defines the way he lives his life and the way he behaves.”
Funeral prayers were held for Mr Al-Fayed following his death on Thursday. Islamic conventions dictate that the deceased must be buried within 24 hours
Mohammed Al Fayed (right) with son Dodi at a party for the film Hook in 1992
Dodi Al-Fayed, son of Mohamed Al-Fayed and film producer, was killed along with Diana in Paris in 1997
Along with his brothers, Mr Al-Fayed acquired a stake in House of Fraser and later bought the entire business – including the prestigious Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, which he kept until 2010
Mr Al-Fayed bought Fulham FC in 1997 and used his cash injection to help the club gain promotion to the Premier League and European competitions in just a few years. He is pictured here in 2011
Mr Al Fayed was once one of the richest people in the world and owned numerous businesses and properties.
Along with his brothers, Mr Al-Fayed bought House of Fraser, which also owned the London department store Harrods in Knightsbridge, in the 1980s.
He retained ownership of the business after Frasers Group went public until he sold it to Qatar Holding in 2010.
He also gained the respect of Fulham FC fans after buying the west London first team for £6 million in 1997 – and his cash injection helped the team move into the Premier League and European competition within a few years.
Mr Al-Fayed sold the site to billionaire businessman Shahid Khan in 2013 for $300 million.
Earlier this year, his fortune was estimated at $2 billion (approximately £1.58 million), ranking him 1,493rd in the world.
And in May last year, Forbes listed his fortune as $1.9 billion – that’s about £1.6 billion.
Before Dodi’s death in 1997, Mr Al-Fayed also became known to the British public through his involvement in the cash-for-questions scandal.
Mohamed Al-Fayed, pictured in Paris in 2016. He sold Harrods and Fulham FC – his largest British business holdings – in 2010 and 2013 respectively
Mr Al-Fayed – seen here leaving the Royal Courts of Justice in 2007. The inquest into the deaths of his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales concluded that the couple were killed afterwards
It saw MPs resign in disgrace after failing to explain that they had been paid by the Egyptian to ask questions in parliament.
He took the allegations to the Guardian newspaper in 1994, prompting the resignation of MP Tim Smith.
Another MP, Neil Hamilton, was found to have accepted bribes including a holiday at the Ritz and a free shopping spree at Harrods.
He did not resign, but the scandal led to him being inextricably linked to wrongdoing and he lost his seat in the 1997 general election.
The questions concerned the controversy over whether Mr Al-Fayed owned Harrods, and the businessman said he had been approached by lobbyist Ian Greer to harass willing MPs.
Mr Al-Fayed has been married twice: first from 1953 to 1956 to Saudi Arabian author Samira Khashoggi, with whom he had Dodi.
In 1985 he married Finnish socialite and former model Heini Wathén, with whom he had four children: Jasmine, Karim, Camilla and Omar.