As in previous seasons, The Crown season 5 explores a number of real-life figures surrounding the Royal Family, but perhaps none in more depth than Mohamed Al-Fayed, the former owner of Harrods.

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Al-Fayed's connections with the Royal Family are numerous, including holding the lease on Edward VIII's former residence and being the father of Dodi Al-Fayed, who was in a relationship with Princess Diana when they both died in 1997.

Diana is played by Elizabeth Debicki in The Crown season 5, but who plays Mohamed Al-Fayed, who is the famous businessman and how did he acquire his wealth?

Read on for everything you need to know.

Who is Mohamed Al-Fayed and how did he acquire his wealth?

Mohamed Al-Fayed
Mohamed Al-Fayed Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Mohamed Al-Fayed first appears in The Crown season 5 episode 3, titled Mou Mou, with that instalment dedicated to exploring his rise to wealth and eventual meeting with Princess Diana. He then appears again in episode 10, called Decommissioned.

In reality, Al-Fayed is an Egyptian businessman who was born in 1929 in Alexandria, Egypt as Mohamed Fayed. His father was a school teacher and he reportedly first started working in jobs such as selling lemonade and sewing machines.

He went on to be employed by Adnan Khashoggi, a businessman working in Saudi Arabian imports. He then launched his own shipping business in Egypt and then became an advisor to the hugely wealthy Sultan of Brunei in 1966.

Al-Fayed moved to Britain in the 1970s, having added the Al to his name, and joined the board of the mining conglomerate Lonrho in 1975. He left months later and in 1979 he bought the Paris Ritz Hotel with his brother Ali.

This was followed by the department store House of Fraser in 1985 and the famous luxury department store Harrods, which the brothers took over in 1985 with a £615m bid.

Subsequent business ventures for Al-Fayed have included the purchase of Fulham football club and the financing of films including Chariots of Fire.

Al-Fayed also signed a fifty-year lease on the Villa Windsor in Paris, the former home of Edward VIII and the Duchess of Windsor, in 1986.

His son Dodi entered into a romantic relationship with Princess Diana in 1997 and the couple both died in a car crash later that year.

Who plays Mohamed Al-Fayed in The Crown season 5?

Amir El-Masry
Amir El-Masry Mike Marsland/WireImage

Mohamed Al-Fayed is played by two different actors at different points in his timeline, with Amir El-Masry portraying him in 1946 and the immediate years after and Salim Daw portraying him from 1979 through to the 1990s.

El-Masry is a British actor best known for his roles in films such as Limbo and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and series including SAS Rogue Heroes, Industry, The Night Manager and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan.

Meanwhile, Daw is an Israeli actor known for appearing in series such as The Bureau and Tyrant. He appears as Al-Fayed in multiple episodes of The Crown season 5, while El-Masry only appears in flashback scenes early in episode 3.

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What has Salim Daw said about playing Mohamed Al-Fayed?

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Salim Daw as Mohamed Al-Fayed in The Crown season 5
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Salim Daw as Mohamed Al-Fayed in The Crown season 5 Keith Bernstein/Netflix

Daw has called Al-Fayed an "incredible, fascinating character" and said that The Crown creator Peter Morgan's depiction of him "has captured all the colours of Mohamed".

He explained: "You feel that you go through every little step with him. You will laugh and you cry as if you are living the spirit with him. It’s so amazing to understand his perspective. You don't have to agree with the way he made decisions for himself and his son, but you understand him and you feel him."

Daw said that Al-Fayed's progression throughout the series "is very dense" because "he went through so much in his life".

He continued: "He’s so motivated to be on the top that this actually dictates the way he lives his life and the way he behaves. I think it’s brilliant, the way Peter has written about his origins.

"It’s very important for the story to know those insights from the roots, where it all began, so that you can see why Mohamed was so eager to arrive at the top and why he wanted his son to be by his side. He came from nothing and he became everything.

"He was so poor, his family had nothing. He worked in the fish market as a little boy so it was hard for him and for his family. So he came from nothing and he became a famous billionaire."

The Crown season 5 will be released on Netflix on 9th November 2022 and you can watch seasons 1-4 right now. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Looking for something else to watch? Visit our TV Guide or Streaming Guide.

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