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            Aston Opens First University Islamic Finance Centre

            The Centre is the first of its kind in Europe

            Aston Business School opened the doors to its Islamic Finance Centre with the intention of establishing Birmingham as “the centre for Islamic finance in the UK.”

            Named after Dr El Shaarani, the ceo of Surgi-Tech, a surgical instruments manufacturer based in Dubai, the El Shaarani Centre for Islamic Finance and Business, was constructed as a result of Dr El Shaarani giving a £1.5 million grant,  the largest recorded financial gift Aston has received.

            “We are honoured to sponsor a UK business school as prestigious as Aston and help to fund research that will explore the role of Islamic finance in the future global financial system,” says Dr El Shaarani.

            “We believe that the creation of this centre will result in the development of new financial tools that will attract greater foreign investment to the West Midlands region. We look forward to continuing a prosperous relationship with Aston University.”

            The Centre will offer a variety of degree programs on Islamic finance for 2010, ranging from undergraduate level to executive level programs. In addition to providing education, the Centre will also research Islamic Finance and Shariah-compliant business as well as providing consultation service to the government and commercial sector.

            In the wake of the recession, Islamic finance received positive media attention as it eschews usury and the selling of debt in favour of sharing the risk and rewards of entering into a business agreement. To some commentators it was this model that left the Middle East relatively untouched by the downturn.

            “...Aston has established this Centre to meet the growing interest in Shariah-complaint finance across the world,” says Dr Omneya Abdelsala (first left in the photograph).

            “Through the Centre, we will educate the next generation of Islamic economists and business leaders – both nationally and internationally. Our research will allow us to investigate how mainstream financial institutions can learn from Islamic finance practices in their recovery from and avoidance of the next global economic crisis.”

            Aston's Centre is receiving increasing media attention from British newspapers. In the Times, Dr Abdelsala writes that the new Centre aims to "seize" the growing popularity for Islamic Finance and the story has also been picked up by the Financial Times.