Real estate tycoon Mohamed Hadid has made a name for himself by building luxury hotels and mansions around the Bel Air neighbourhood in Los Angeles, as well as being the father of supermodels Bella, Gigi and Anwar.
But the founder of Hadid Design and Development Group has another claim to fame: he is a descendant of Daher Al Omer, who was the Arab ruler of northern Palestine until 1774.
Hadid posted a series of pictures on his Instagram on Saturday, August 29, revealing that Al Omer – his great grandfather from his mother's side – oversaw the building of the port in Haifa in the mid-18th century.
Hadid with his daughters Gigi and Bella:
Most of the pictures that Hadid posted show Haifa in grainy black and white, before the coastal city was declared part of Israel in 1948.
Hadid and his family were among those who left Palestine during the Nakba of 1948, when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes.
One of the images Hadid posted is a painting of his grandfather – who was also known as the Prince of Nazareth and Sheikh of Galilee – sitting with a book in hand and a scimitar at his waist.
The port in question, with its cannon-decked battlement, is visible through the window behind him.
Al Omer ruled northern Palestine autonomously while the area was still nominally under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. He began his reign in the 1730s, ruling over Galilee before successively expanding his dominion to cover Tiberias, Arraba, Nazareth, Deir Hanna and finally Akka, in 1746. Al Omer fortified Akka before the city became the centre of the cotton trade between Palestine and Europe.
In 1757, Al Omer took control of the Mediterranean port villages of Haifa and Tanutra, as well as the nearby Mount Mar Elias, all of which had been under the control of the Damascus Eyalet.
In 1765, Al Omer had Haifa demolished before rebuilding the city and fortifying it at a site three kilometres to the southeast. The new town was built at the northern foot of Mount Mar Elias, in a bid to make it easier to defend by land.
“It was and still is a beautiful city,” Hadid wrote in his post, adding that the city could be once accessed through Palestine Airways and Palestine Railways.
The airline ceased operations in 1940 when its aircraft were taken over by the UK’s Royal Air Force for use in the war effort, whereas the railway company ceased operations in 1948.
Earlier this year, Hadid posted this photo, writing: "Yes, I was in these trucks and donkeys and the tents. I was just few months old ... we all got locked out of our homes."