CAIRO: In his first interview after selling the luxury department store Harrods, Egyptian businessman Mohamed El-Fayed said that there were those who were always against his success but that his popularity continued to grow among the general public.
In an interview with Amr Adeeb on Orbit’s “Al-Qahera Al-Youm,” El-Fayed recounted his journey and discussed his life in England.
“It makes me proud to show them that I can do better than them,” said El-Fayed. “I have contributed a lot to the British economy and I am determined to show them what Egyptians are capable of.”
“The British are the main cause of chaos in Egypt after colonizing it,” he added. “I say to them, when my ancestors were building Pyramids, you were wearing animal skin.”
El Fayed, who refused the British citizenship, explained, “I do not need it. I am proud of my Egyptian passport and the Egyptian civilization.”
El-Fayed recounted his beginnings as a 24-year-old, when he worked on his four boats in Alexandria. When one of them broke down near the shores of Dubai, he decided to explore it and found himself meeting with then Sheikh Rashed, who asked for his assistance in building ports.
El-Fayed traveled to London and secured a deal with a British company that would do the job. One opportunity led to another, and he later became involved in oil excavations.
“I was good at fixing deals,” said El-Fayed. “I had a feel for people; who to trust, who to work with, who to sign contracts with. There’s no such thing as luck. God gives you opportunities and you use them to benefit yourself and others.”
“God gives everyone strength and intelligence to be unique, not just an ordinary person,” he added. “Nothing is difficult if you are faithful, ambitious, and educated.”
Speaking about his recent decision to sell Harrods to the Qatari royal family, El-Fayed explained that British laws had enforced a board of trustees on his business, who limited his access to Harrods’ profits. He also did not want to leave such a hectic business to his children.
“Harrods is like a Pyramid,” he added. “It will create huge publicity for Qatar, and the Qataris know and appreciate that.”
El-Fayed assured viewers that the monuments installed in Harrods will not be removed by its new owners. “The monuments are registered by the antiquities authority in England. They cannot be touched.”
El-Fayed also denied rumors that he had sold Ritz Hotel in Paris. “I’m a merchant. I sell when I can get a profit. I could sell it anytime, but I haven’t yet,” he said.
El-Fayed also expressed his views on the economic crisis. “Politicians are to blame for not implementing laws that protect the economy, which allows for greed … And the biggest problem is in Wall Street.”
With more spare time, El-Fayed is now dedicated to his charity foundation, which functions in both Egypt and England. “When God gives you blessings, you always have to help others, the sick and the needy. That’s what I learned from my father.”
When asked if he would invest in Egypt, El-Fayed smiled and said, “At 77, it is time to rest.”