* Applicants invited to submit sharia business plan
* Winner will get salaried apprenticeship
By Anjuli Davies
LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - Islamic finance is on the hunt for an apprentice.
Dome Advisory, an international sharia advisory firm is launching a nationwide search for talented students at UK universities who can come up with a business plan or research idea that will aid the development of Islamic finance.
“I want the best brains...We need new blood in the industry and they don’t have to be Muslim,” Sheikh Bilal Khan, sharia scholar and non-executive director at London-based Dome said.
“I’m doing the Apprentice basically,” he added.
The Apprentice is a reality television show, popular in the UK and the United States, in which aspiring young people compete to win a well-paid apprenticeship with successful business magnates - Alan Sugar in the UK version and Donald Trump in the U.S.
With Islamic finance a $1 trillion industry globally - and expected by Deutsche Bank to nearly double by 2016 - students of sharia have more opportunities than before to take their skills beyond the mosque doors and into the boardroom.
But discovering young and fresh talent is seen by some in the industry as one of its biggest stumbling blocks, with no standard career paths and a shortage of financially literate scholars, seen as gatekeepers to the industry.
Knowledge of sharia law is undoubtedly essential in the industry, but other skills such as business acumen, technology and language skills are also seen as relevant.
Product development activity is returning to levels seen before the global financial crisis, ranging from complex structured products to new sectors such as the environment.
“The criteria for me is simple: it has to be cutting edge stuff, it has to be environmentally sustainable and socially responsible,” said Khan.
Applicants don’t need to have any specialist background in Islamic finance nor any religious alignments and their idea can span any sector from healthcare to the environment as long as it promotes sharia-compliant activities.
Islamic finance complies with religious principles, which includes a ban on interest and activities such as speculation and gambling.
The winner will be given a salaried position at Dome to develop their idea as well as gain experience of Islamic finance.
“Talent doesn’t have a religion, talent doesn’t have a race or a background, talent could be anywhere,” said Khan. (Reporting By Anjuli Davies; Additional reporting by Bernardo Vizcaino; Editing by Erica Billingham)