Mohamed Abdel Moneim Fayed (محمد الفايد) (born January 27, 1933) is a billionaire Egyptian businessman. Amongst his business interests is ownership of Harrods department store in Knightsbridge and the English Premiership football team Fulham Football Club. He relaunched the humour publication Punch in 1996 but it folded again in 2002.
He has two brothers; Ali Fayed and Salah Fayed. Since 1985 he has been married to Finnish socialite and former model Heini Wathén, and has four living children: Jasmine (who has one child, Delilah), Karim, Camilla and Omar. A fifth child, Dodi, from Al Fayed's first marriage, died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, along with Diana, Princess of Wales and Henri Paul, the driver of the car and employee of the Fayed-owned Hôtel Ritz Paris.
He was married for two years to Samira Kashoggi (1955 - 1956), the sister of the international businessman and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who employed him in his import business in Saudi Arabia. After establishing wide circles of influence in the UAE, Haiti and London, Fayed founded his own shipping company in Egypt before becoming a financial adviser to one of the world's richest men, the then Sultan of Brunei Omar Ali Saifuddien III, in 1966.
He arrived in Britain in 1974 and added the al- to his name, earning the Private Eye nickname "the Phoney Pharaoh". He briefly joined the board of the mining conglomerate Lonrho in 1975 but left after a disagreement. In 1985, he married Wathén, his second wife.
In 1979, Fayed bought the Hôtel Ritz Paris, and restored it to its former glory for which he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (Légion d’Honneur) by the then President of France, François Mitterrand.
In 1985, he and his brother Ali Fayed bought House of Fraser, a group that included the famous London store Harrods, for £615m. The Harrods deal was made under the nose of Roland 'Tiny' Rowland, the head of Lonrho. Rowland had been seeking to buy Harrods and took the Fayed brothers to a Department of Trade inquiry. The inquiry, involving one of the most bitter feuds in British business history, issued a 1990 report stating that the Fayed 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 in 1998, and, without accepting responsibility, 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.)
In 1994, House of Fraser went public, but Fayed retained private ownership of Harrods.
For years, Fayed unsuccessfully sought British citizenship. Both Labour and Conservative Home Secretaries repeatedly rejected his applications on the grounds that he was not of good character. He took the matter to court, but failed. It has been suggested that the feud contributed to Fayed's being refused British citizenship the first time.
Mohamed Fayed was involved in the cash for questions scandal, having offered money for questions in the commons to the Conservative MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith. Both left the government in disgrace. Fayed also revealed that the cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken had stayed for free at the Ritz Hotel in Paris at the same time as a group of Saudi arms dealers leading to Aitken's subsequent unsuccessful libel case and imprisonment for perjury. During this period Al-Fayed was represented publicly by public relations expert Michael Cole.
Fayed repeated these claims at the inquest into the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed on February 18 2008, claiming that the Princess "knew Prince Philip and Prince Charles were trying to get rid of her". MI6 and most of the British and French establishments, with the sole exception of the Queen, were also implicated, he claimed. The 1997 accident he called "hot murder".
His testimony was roundly condemned in the press as being farcical and led to members of the British Government's Intelligence and Security committee including George Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock and Dari Taylor to accuse him of turning the Inquest into a 'circus' and calls for it to be ended prematurely.
Fulham stormed to the Second Division title with a record 101 points in 1999. Kevin Keegan was appointed manager of England at this time. In 2001, Fulham took the First Division (now Football League Championship) under manager Jean Tigana, winning 100 points and scoring over 100 goals in the season. This meant that Fayed had achieved his objective of Fulham being a Premiership club a year ahead of schedule.
Fayed stated that he wanted Fulham to become the "Manchester United of the South", referring to United's rise in the 1990s to being one of the biggest clubs in the world.
On 5 May 2007, Fayed celebrated his 10th year with Fulham. This was marked by a 1-0 win over Liverpool, which ensured that the club retained their Premiership status for another season.
In 2003, Fayed moved from Surrey, UK to Switzerland, alleging a breach in an agreement with the Her Majesty's Inland Revenue Commissioners. In 2005, he moved back to Britain, saying that he "regards Britain as home".