Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- I don’t know where to start with the story of the famous Egyptian businessman Mohamed al-Fayed.
Why is al-Fayed now one of the most influential figures in English society?
“Harrods” today encompasses an area of approximately 1.2 million square meters over seven floors, and is visited by around 30,000 shoppers every day. How was Mohamed al-Fayed able to achieve such growth and profits, especially after it was recently revealed that he had sold Harrods for an estimated 1.5 billion pounds?
The most pleasant thing that one can do inside Harrods is have some English-style tea in the main restaurant, from where you can see every corner of the famous store, as well as its Egyptian and Arab workers, working with love and honesty.
My first encounter with the al-Fayed family was with Salah al-Fayed [Mohamed al-Fayed’s elder brother]. It was only later that I was introduced to Mohamed al-Fayed by Egyptian writer Samir Ragab when he came to Egypt after living abroad for a long time in order to visit the monuments of the Pharaohs.
I recently visited the famous Harrods store for a book-signing event for my book “A Secret Voyage: Love, Magic, and Mysteries in the Realm of the Pharaohs” with photographs by world-renowned Italian photographer Sandro Vannini. I did not meet with Mohamed al-Fayed on this occasion as he was undertaking a routine surgical procedure in the United States, however he did call me by telephone in order to express his regret that he would not be able to attend, and said that his brother would be filling in for him.
I did not imagine that I would receive such a fantastic reception, with drums and flutes, which even impressed the British public who had come to the famous store to do their Christmas shopping.
I remember that after Mohamed al-Fayed received a copy of this book he contacted me by telephone to say that he did not envisage such a wonderful book on the Pharaohs being produced. He said that “these are the greatest pictures that I’ve seen, representing the life and loves of the Pharaonic figures that I love, from royalty to ordinary people.”
It is well known that Mohamed al-Fayed loves the Pharaohs. He is very proud to be from the ‘land of the Pharaohs’, and he has been able to be an Egyptian Pharaoh in England. He has also had a number of statues produced and displayed that present him as a Pharaoh, in addition to this there is the Egyptian Hall at Harrods, and the Egyptian escalator that tells the story of the Valley of the Kings, in Harrods. Due to his love of Pharaonic history, al-Fayed has also talked about his wish to be mummified after death, and for his mummified body to be used as one of the hands on the giant clock that adorns the Harrods building, which is one of the major attractions of London’s prestigious Knightsbridge area.
Public opinion of al-Fayed in Britain remains preoccupied with the death of his son Dodi al-Fayed, in the well known tragic accident that also claimed the life of Princess Diana. Al-Fayed has said that he blames the British Royal family for the death of his son, and that this is something that he intends to prove in court. I don’t think that Mohamed al-Fayed will rest until he discovers the truth behind the death of his son, for anybody who knows al-Fayed knows that he is strong-willed and never gives up, and in that respect, is he not truly a descendent of the Pharaohs?