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A banker who was integral in bringing Islamic finance to Europe is to receive an honorary degree from Birmingham City University.

With 27 years of experience in professional and financial services, Birmingham-born Sultan Choudhury has raised the profile of Islamic banking in the UK through his engagement with communities, governments and international organisations.

In 2004 Sultan set up the operations of the first Islamic bank to be authorised in the UK, developing its head office operations, product range and service delivery. As CEO, Sultan established the Islamic Bank of Britain, later known as Al Rayan Bank, into a profitable and successful financial institution as the largest Islamic bank in Western Europe. 

Sultan’s ongoing service to the Muslim community includes his position as Chairman of the National Zakat Foundation, a ground-breaking initiative which aims to utilise charitable funds collected in the UK for the benefit of deserving recipients across the country.

Sultan is a chartered accountant and is also a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment. He received an OBE in the Queen’s 2017 Birthday Honours List for services to the UK’s Islamic finance market.

Islamic finance emerged in the 20th century as an effective tool for financing development worldwide, including in non-Muslim countries. Islamic organisations run their operations in a way that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law.

It is one of the fastest growing financial industries, with global assets expected to reach £2.8 trillion by 2023.

Commenting ahead of receiving the award, Sultan said: “I am very proud to receive this honour from Birmingham City University – a remarkable institution providing a pivotal platform for its students to fulfil their potential in life, based in the city where I have always lived and worked.

“I have been involved in Islamic finance in Birmingham, nationally and internationally for 17 years and have seen the sector establish in the UK delivering financial inclusivity to many for whom conventional banking is not an option.

Sultan will receive his award from Birmingham City University at a special ceremony in January, before students graduating from the University’s Business School.

Birmingham City University recently announced the launch of the first Accounting and Islamic Finance undergraduate course in the UK.

The new course sees students research Islamic economics, whilst developing an understanding of corporate social responsibility in modules exploring how businesses are taking greater responsibility in helping to move towards a cleaner and more sustainable planet.

The degree also provides students with opportunities to partner with Islamic charities on community advice projects.

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