by Muslim Mirror Staff
London’s iconic Trocadero building is set to undergo a remarkable transformation as Malawian property tycoon, Asif Aziz, secures permission to convert a portion of the landmark into a mosque and Islamic center.
After overcoming opposition and hurdles, Aziz’s vision of the “Piccadilly Prayer Space” will soon be realized, offering a place of worship and reflection for Muslims in the bustling heart of the city.
Aziz, a renowned billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, purchased the historic Trocadero for a staggering £220 million in 2005. Initially, he had ambitious plans to create a 1,000-capacity mosque, but faced resistance from far-right groups and some local residents, leading to the shelving of those plans in 2020.
In May 2023, however, Aziz’s determination bore fruit as he obtained permission for a 390-capacity mosque within the Trocadero building. Named the “Piccadilly Prayer Space,” the center will operate from 10 am to 7 pm, Monday to Friday.
Notably, the center will not host special events for Ramadan, Eid, or funerals, ensuring that its operations are smoothly integrated into the vibrant surroundings.
The “Piccadilly Prayer Space” will employ four full-time staff, including an imam and a center manager. Aziz envisions the mosque as a place that will cater to both tourists and Muslims working in the area, embracing diversity and fostering understanding among different communities.
The Trocadero building, steeped in history, began its journey as a music hall in 1882 before evolving into a restaurant in 1896 and then a dance hall in 1965. Today, the entertainment complex houses a hotel and various restaurants, making the integration of the mosque a significant step towards diversity and inclusion in London’s social fabric.
Born in Malawi in 1967, Aziz moved to London at the age of six, where he laid the foundation of his property empire while still in school. He earned his business baccalaureate from the British American College London and later ventured into the African market, amassing his fortune through the establishment of two successful food manufacturing businesses, including Golfrate Angola.
In 2005, Aziz returned to the UK and founded Criterion Capital, which now owns and operates key landmarks such as the London Trocadero, Criterion Building, and London Pavilion, solidifying its status as the largest landowner in the Leicester Square – Piccadilly Circus corridor.
Aziz’s success story and dedication to philanthropy are further exemplified through the Aziz Foundation, a family-based charity working towards positive social change and empowerment.
The upcoming inauguration of the “Piccadilly Prayer Space” marks a significant milestone in London’s history, celebrating cultural diversity and religious harmony. As London evolves and adapts to the changing times, this transformative change is a testament to the power of vision, perseverance, and inclusivity.
The “Piccadilly Prayer Space” is set to become a symbol of unity, offering a sanctuary for spiritual reflection amidst the vibrant energy of the city, and it is expected to open its doors to the public within the next few months.