Mohamed Al Fayed called an ‘extraordinary tour de force’

Mohamed Al Fayed called an ‘extraordinary tour de force’

Former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed has been described as “an extraordinary tour de force” after his death at the age of 94.

Mr Al Fayed, who was owner and chairman of Fulham Football Club for 16 years, died on Wednesday. His family announced on Friday he had “passed away peacefully of old age”.

Paying tribute, journalist and presenter Piers Morgan said the Egyptian-born businessman had struggled to come to terms with the death of his son Dodi in the car crash which also killed Diana, Princess of Wales in Paris in August 1997.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Morgan said: “An extraordinary tour de force of a man who never got over the death of his beloved son Dodi in the crash that also killed Diana.

“Mohamed wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and he was a flawed, complex character, but I liked him.”

Shahid Khan, who took over as owner of Fulham in 2013 after a spell which had seen the club rise to the Premier League and reach the Europa League final, paid his condolences in a statement on the club’s website.

Mohamed Al Fayed death, tribute at Fulham
A floral tribute and a scarf at Craven Cottage after the death of former Fulham chairman and Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

He said: “The story of Fulham cannot be told without a chapter on the positive impact of Mr Al Fayed as chairman.

“I always enjoyed my time with Mr Al Fayed, who was wise, colourful and committed to Fulham, and I am forever grateful for his trust in me to succeed him as chairman.

“I join our supporters around the world in celebrating the memory of Mohamed Al Fayed, whose legacy will always be at the heart of our tradition at Fulham Football Club.”

The family statement said Mr Al Fayed “enjoyed a long and fulfilled retirement surrounded by his loved ones”.

According to Sky News, a funeral was held after Friday prayers at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park.

Mohamed Al Fayed death
Mohamed Al Fayed leaving the High Court in London, after giving evidence at the inquest into the death of his son, Dodi, and Diana, Princess of Wales (PA)

Lord Alan Sugar paid tribute, writing: “A real character. I also liked him, we met a few times.

“He turned up at my wife’s 50th birthday held at the Ritz in Paris. My father in law didn’t know who he was, I introduced him as the bloke who has the big corner shop in Knights bridge. R.I.P.”

Mr Al Fayed, who was portrayed by Salim Daw in the fifth series of The Crown, repeatedly claimed his son and the late princess were murdered in a plot by the British establishment.

Born in Alexandria in Egypt, he came to London in the 1960s taking control of Harrods in 1985 – which he sold to Qatar’s royal family for a reported £1.5 billion in 2010. He had purchased the Ritz hotel in Paris in 1979.

Mohamed Al Fayed death
Mohamed Al Fayed with Madonna as she arrives at The New School in West Heath, Kent, for a fundraiser in 2010 (PA)

Mr Al Fayed made his first application for British citizenship in 1993, and again in 1999, weeks after it was granted to his brother Ali, but was declared unfit to hold a British passport by then-home secretary Jack Straw.

The businessman appealed against the decision but Lords Justice Nourse, Kennedy and Rix dismissed his claim that Mr Straw had been biased when he refused the application.

He had previously been rejected in 1993 by former home office minister Charles Wardle who joined the Harrods board of directors in 2000, a move which came as a surprise to some.

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen poked fun at the dispute on his satirical comedy series, Da Ali G Show, when he was joined by Mr Al Fayed in 2000.

Cohen, as the Ali G character, said that the businessman not being able to rap was “an obstacle” to him getting a British passport and so they rapped a song together that referenced the Harrods owner.

The 2021 Sunday Times Rich List reported that Mohamed Al-Fayed and family were worth around £1.7 billion.