Many of us may have heard of Mohammed Al-Fayed, one of the world’s most famous billionaires. Perhaps you’ve heard about him owning one of the world’s largest Ritz hotels, Hôtel Ritz Paris, the Harrods Department store or even some football clubs in the English Premier League.
Today, we are going to review together the journey of Mohammed Al-Fayed from the very beginning, and find out what the key to his success was, and how he was able to become so famous and wealthy. While reviewing his story, one must keep in mind that he started out as a simple laborer in the port of Alexandria, Egypt.
Mohamed Al-Fayed was born in 1933 in Alexandria. His father was a primary school teacher of Arabic. Living in poverty and hunger, Al-Fayed began to work as a laborer in the port of Alexandria. He then moved on to work in Saudi Arabia, selling sewing machines. It was here that he met the famous arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who employed him in his import and export business.
Al-Fayed’s first contact with the business world was when he started his own shipping business, in Egypt. Through this work, he was able to establish good relations and business activities with the Sultan of Brunei, one of the richest people in the world. In 1966, thanks to his intelligence and good management skills, he became the primary adviser of the Sultan’s investments, who was later persuaded by Mohammed Al-Fayed to invest in the United Kingdom.
Shortly after, Al-Fayed traveled to Dubai to work in the UAE, and set up the IMS (International Marina Services). It was the first to put berths for the Dubai port, allowing vessels from all around the world to travel to Dubai. Because of his many talents and abilities, Shaikh Rashid Al Maktoum’s confidence in Al-Fayed increased. He asked him to do a research and travel to companies which could help the emirate of Dubai extract oil. This task was done by Mohammed Al-Fayed personally. He managed to convince international companies to come to Dubai and start extracting oil. Thus, the emirate soon began to extract 300,000 barrels a day, which is a huge wealth for the same as the owner was the decision to control the price of oil and the rise or fall. Al-Fayed had an agreement with Sheikh Rashid, stipulating that he would receive 20% of the oil profits for 25 years, and that the port of Dubai would remain under his responsibility and management for the same period. Mohammed Al Fayed was one of the most important reasons for the renaissance witnessed by the Emirate of Dubai.
Mohammed Al-Fayed moved to the United Kingdom in 1974. A year later, he joined the board of the British company Lonrho, which has various activities in the fields of investment and constructions in Africa, but left after 9 months. He bought the Hotel Dor Chester and then the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris in 1979, and sold it in the early 1980s. Al-Fayed established good personal and business relationships with the royal family in the UK after he bought the Duke of Windsor Palace in Paris and sent a list of the contents of the palace to Queen Elizabeth II to choose from. In 1985, Al Fayed won a deal to buy the House of Fraser, which includes the famous Harrods chain, where Queen Elizabeth was buying her clothes and palace supplies from, in the prestigious Knightsbridge area in London. Fayed then managed to control 65% of Harrods with the consent of the British authorities for £615 million.
In 1997, Al-Fayed bought the English football team Fulham for £6.25 million, and turned the club from a low-level team to one of the top teams in the Premier League. He later sold it in July 2013 to the American businessman of Pakistani origin Shahid Khan, for £200 million
However, Al-Fayed faced many problems in Britain, when the British government asked him to pay as much as £20 million in taxes on his profits. There was a tax deal with his brothers, Ali and Salah, paying annual taxes of 240,000 pounds for their own income. However, the government canceled the agreement and Fayed decided to move and settle in Switzerland permanently.
Al Fayed has the most expensive shoes in the world, estimated at $2 million and decorated with jewelry and precious stones. He also owns a luxury yacht called Sokar, which cost $40 million. Forbes magazine estimated the wealth of Fayed at $2,150 billion in 2010, and he was ranked 34th in the world’s wealthiest list with a fortune of $2 billion in 2014