Dorrit Moussaieff was born in Jerusalem to a wealthy Bukharian Jewish family from Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The Moussaieff family is part of a long dynasty of jewellers. Dorrit is the great granddaughter of Shlomo Moussaieff. Ancestors of hers are said to have woven the robe of Genghis Khan. Her great grandmother, Esther Gaonoff, was a descendant of Yosef Maimon.
Her father, Shlomo Moussaieff, is a Bukharian Jew and her mother, Aliza Moussaieff is an Austrian Jew of Ashkenazi heritage, but Dorrit Moussaieff identifies more with the Bukharian culture and was raised by her father’s large family.
Moussaieff was born and raised in the Bukharan Quarter of Jerusalem. At thirteen, she moved with her family to London. She suffered from dyslexia and was home-schooled. In addition to English and Hebrew, she also speaks German, French, and some Icelandic.
Moussaieff describes herself as „religious in the soul,“ and continues to observe Jewish rituals, such as lighting Hanukkah candles.
As a child, Moussaieff spent a lot of time in her family’s jewellery store on Hilton Park Lane in London, and went on to become a successful jewellery designer. Other business ventures in which she has been involved are the construction of an office building at Canary Wharf, London and a tourism project in Turkish Cyprus. Moussaieff is a contributing editor to the British society magazine Tatler.
In 2003, Moussaieff married Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, president of Iceland, on his 60th birthday. She has helped present Icelandic culture abroad, promoted Icelandic artists and identified foreign markets for Icelandic products. She is also active in raising money for disabled children.
In May 2006, while visiting Israel, Moussaieff was detained at Ben Gurion International Airport after arguing with security personnel who refused to acknowledge her British passport and told her that she was obliged by Israeli law to enter and exit the country using an Israeli passport. The media related to the confrontation as a diplomatic incident. The Israeli Embassy in Norway, which handles diplomatic relations with Iceland, expressed regret over the incident but restated the law that Israeli citizens must carry Israeli passports when in the country.
Moussaieff was listed third on the Harper’s Magazine List of the Most Connected People in Britain. A local magazine in Reykjavik chose her as one of the best-dressed women in Iceland. Moussaieff was also named Woman of 2006 by the popular Icelandic glossy magazine Nýtt Líf.
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