A MULTI-MILLION pound building which has lain empty for almost a decade is set to finally open next year after a £25m boost.

The Oxford Centre For Islamic Studies (OCIS), with its minaret dominating the view over the River Cherwell from Marston Road, will open in 2012, it was revealed last night.

Although work began on the building in 2002, it has never opened. Now the final piece of the funding jigsaw has fallen into place and the finishing touches are being made.

Centre registrar Richard Makepeace said: “We are confident we can meet our obligations and we are on target for opening in 2012.”

Building work on the 3.25-acre site, bought from Magdalen College, was originally scheduled to finish in 2004. Then the trustees found they were £25m short and work ground to a halt.

Mr Makepeace, a former British diplomat in Cairo, said: “Producing the building we want takes time. We wanted a building that bears comparison with other Oxford landmarks. But we are on the final straight now.”

He said the building was originally budgeted at £60m, but with time and inflation the end cost will be higher – but he could not say what the final figure would be.

The money has come from a number of individuals and governments, with the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia alone donating £20m.

But Mr Makepeace said the Libyan Government of Colonel Gaddafi had not been among the contributors.

The centre was originally conceived before the horrors of 9/11 and present upheavals in the Islamic world.

Mr Makepeace said: “These events make the mission of understanding and international co-operation even more important.”

The centre will include a mosque, offices, an auditorium, a lecture theatre and a dining hall as well as accommodation for about 40 graduate students and parking.

Mr Makepeace said it will be an economic bonus for Oxford, creating dozens of jobs. He said there were no plans to broadcast a call to prayer.

Prince Charles, who is patron of the centre, took a prominent part in the design of the Islamic garden.

The OCIS is a recognised independent centre of Oxford University.

Roy Darke, county councillor for Headington and Marston, said: “It will be a great relief to see the building finished.

“It has been a long time, but it is a symbolic building, so the Islamic community have wanted to get it right.”

Mr Darke said other groups and communities would be able to use the building and grounds, which would be a boost for Marston.