London’s iconic Trocadero building will soon witness a transformative change as 56-year-old Malawian property tycoon Asif Aziz has obtained permission to convert a part of the landmark into a mosque and Islamic center.
Aziz, who acquired the famous Trocadero for a staggering £220 million ($287.7 million) in 2005, had initially planned to convert it into a 1,000-capacity mosque. However, due to opposition from far-right groups and some residents, those plans were shelved in 2020.
Now, in a more recent development in May 2023, Aziz successfully secured permission to construct a 390-capacity mosque, aptly named the “Piccadilly Prayer Space.”
“The opening times of the premises as proposed will be between 10 am to 7 pm Monday to Friday. The applicant has also confirmed that the center does not propose to hold special events for Ramadan, Eid or funerals.” Four full-time staff would be employed at the premises, including a center manager and an imam.
Reports indicate that the mosque is expected to be inaugurated within a few months, a move welcomed by Aziz’s foundation, which aims for the mosque to serve both tourists and Muslims working in the area.
The Trocadero opened as a music hall in 1882, it was later turned into a restaurant in 1896 and in 1965 became a dance hall. Today, the entertainment complex consists of a hotel and restaurants.
Asif Aziz is a London-based billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist. As the founder and Chief Executive of Criterion Capital, he owns and operates key landmarks, including the London Trocadero and Criterion Building in Piccadilly Circus. Aziz is also the founder of a family-based charity the Aziz Foundation.
Born in Malawi in 1967, Aziz moved to London at the age of six. He acquired his first London property in the 1980s, whilst still at school. He graduated from the British American College London with a business baccalaureate. Aziz worked for property investment company Morgan Grenfell Laurie before moving back to Angola, Africa in 1993 where he made his fortune through the setting up of two food manufacturing businesses, including Golfrate Angola, which he sold in 2005. That same year he returned to the UK and established Criterion Capital, which acquired the London Trocadero leisure complex, the London Pavilion (1 Piccadilly Circus), and The Criterion Building (1 Jermyn Street). Today, Criterion Capital is the biggest landowner in the Leicester Square – Piccadilly Circus corridor.