Mohamed Hadid: Real Estate Mogul, Olympian, Father

Mohamed Hadid is well-known for many things. From being a real estate giant in Los Angeles and creating several elaborate

Mohamed Hadid

Mohamed Hadid is well-known for many things. From being a real estate giant in Los Angeles and creating several elaborate mansions, to his time as a Jordanian Olympian in speed skiing, Hadid has done it all. Hadid is also the father of several amazingly talented children, who have made names for themselves.

Who is Mohamed Hadid? He has a surprising origin story….

With a name that has been in the news for decades, there’s a lot people don’t generally know about him. Hadid was born on November 6, 1948, in Nazareth, Israel.  At the time, his place of birth belonged to Palestine. A 1998 biography of Hadid tells of his young childhood, “His father taught English at the University of Jerusalem. When he was two months old, his mother took him to stay with her mother in Damascus. While they were there, the state of Israel was born in Palestine. When Hadid’s mother returned to Nazareth with the baby, she found an empty house. Hadid says that his father had been expelled. Hadid became a refugee.

Mohamed Hadid

‘My mother loaded our possessions on a donkey and walked to Damascus,’ Hadid says. ‘She thought my father was dead. We lived in Syria for 18 months. My mother checked with the Red Cross, but she couldn’t find any trace of my father. Finally my uncle found us and told her my father was alive, and we were reunited.’”

Hadid’s father worked for the US Information Agency in Damascus after that, and a year later was transferred to Tunis, where Hadid and his 7 siblings lived for the next decade. In 1964, Hadid’s father took a job for the Voice of America in Washington D.C., and the whole family moved to America.

The Hadids come to America

Hadid struggled in the US. 15-year-old Hadid spoke little English, and struggled to relate to his peers. The ’98 Biography details, “There were few foreigners at Washington & Lee High School, and he was the only Arab [sic]. No one understood his sense of humor. He didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke cigarettes, and he didn’t smoke pot. He was a soccer player at a football-crazed school. He was an outsider who wanted to make it, and he made it at math.

‘I felt that I had to be the best,’ Hadid says. ‘I couldn’t excel in English or history because you need language skills, but math is an international language. I used it to prove my intelligence and creativity, and through math I exceeded at engineering and architecture after high school.’”

From one venture to another, Hadid’s reputation grew

While he attended North Carolina State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there is some dispute over whether or not he obtained degrees there. Hadid considers it something he doesn’t have to prove to his detractors. After trying his hand at running a nightclub, Hadid partnered with a British car salesman to import classic cars to sell in D.C. By 1978, Hadid had decided to form the American Export & Development Company, which worked overseas to supply companies with American goods and services.  Eventually, Hadid partnered with Walter Cheatle, and they formed the Hadid Investment Group. Their company became associated with a reputation for speculation, but Hadid told Regardie’sthat he resents the association and considered it a developer company instead. In the 80’s, Hadid set his eyes on Aspen, Colorado, and began building his reputation further.BravoTV tells how he became involved in huge projects in the area, “There, he would go on to develop a Ritz-Carlton, redevelop the old Continental Inn, and construct the Silver Circle Ice Rink.”

Mohamed Hadid in his car

In the 80’s, Hadid went toe to toe with business giant now-President Donald J Trump, who was looking to buy a foreclosed property in Aspen. Hadid saw an opportunity, and snatched the property out from under Trump’s nose, boasting that he had beaten the unbeatable businessman.

Though skiing downhill, Hadid’s career was headed up

In 1992, Hadid was given the opportunity to represent Jordan in the Winter Olympics. Possessing a dual citizenship between the US and Jordan, Hadid had the distinction of being the only Jordanian to compete in the Albertville, France, games. Shortly after that, Hadid closed up business in D.C. and jetted cross-country for a move to Los Angeles.

Hadid’s family life

In 1979, Hadid married Mary Butler, and they had two children together; Alana and Marielle. They divorced in 1992, and in 1994 Hadid remarried to Yolanda van den Harik, and the couple had three children together; Anwar, Gigi, and Bella. They divorced in 2000.

Bella and Gigi Hadid

Hadid appeared on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which his ex-wife Yolanda was featured in, and later in E! Second Wives Club, which profiled the relationship with his next great love, Shiva Safai. A 33-year-age gap meant Safai and Hadid struggled to come to an agreement on certain life decisions. TMZ reports that the pair disagreed about children, and split in 2018.

Hadid’s children have successful careers of their own

Speaking of children, Hadid’s three children from his second marriage have all become famous models. Gigi recently announced that she is expecting her first child with Zayn Malik, of One Direction fame.

There have been rain clouds, too

But it hasn’t all been roses and butterflies for Hadid in his enormously successful and high-profile career. Having struggled with legal woes on occasion in D.C., Hadid hoped L.A. would offer a fresh start. While Hadid developed many luxury builds and gorgeous mansions in Bel-Air, including La Belvedere and The Crescent, Hadid ran into trouble in 2014 when a mansion he had won approval to build came under fire from neighbors for permit violations. Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie, and daughter of Bud Walton, filed suit against Hadid for damaging a Eucalyptus tree on her property during the course of construction. This set off a 5-year-battle that came to an end when a judge ruled in 2019 that Hadid would have to tear down his beloved project after one permit violation too many pushed it over the legal edge.

True to form, Hadid will recover

But this won’t get Hadid down. With a lifetime of experience of overcoming the odds and battling with the big dogs, Hadid is sure to snatch victory from this unfortunate defeat. Hadid has a unique way of turning trials into opportunity, and nothing has managed to stand in his way yet. With five beautiful children and a legacy of luxury, unique, beautiful build projects under his belt, Hadid has left an indelible mark on the face of the country, and his will be a name remembered for generations.


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