Bright light shines through the church-inspired stained-glass window in Bader Murad’s Aviator Café as he sits down with Perle Magazine and gives us an exclusive look inside his aviation themed cafe, his model-building empire and what the future holds for his company.
Living next to the Dahran Airport as a child, Mr Bader’s interest in planes was sparked from an early age, especially due to the launch of the 747 at the time. As a child, he says, the huge plane seemed all the more fascinating since at the time it was the first ever biggest commercial plane that anyone had seen. From then on, he says, his interest was peaked and he hasn’t looked back ever since.
Getting his bachelors and masters degree in aviation and aerospace in 1990 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida, Mr. Bader’s aviation passion led him to work as Senior Manager Aircraft Fleet Economics with a major ariline for 28 years and also to establishing his own model-building company, Bader Models. The company that was established in 1997 caters to not only creating model airplanes, but also architectural models and most recently – in the last seven or eight years – has also started working on creating yacht models.
The Gulf, being a small market for aviation enthusiasts, Mr. Bader says initially he found it difficult to break into this market with his plane models as not only is this an expensive hobby but also there are so few people who are interested in plane modes. His company made a significant impression making models for some of the biggest projects around the Gulf. One of his regular clients include Alba, for whom he recently submitted a model for one of their newest projects, and other big names include Diyaar real estate, Durrat Al Bahrain, Al Areen, Riffa Views, King Hamad Hospital, The Sheraton Twin Towers, Salman Industrial Park and much more. All the big projects around Bahrain, he says, his company has made models for. His plane models, however, have gained much success in the west with America and Europe being his busiest continents. Mr. Bader says around 95-99% of his plane models are ordered for export and cater to the needs of VVIPs, people who want to give these models out as presents, owners of private jets and so on.
In the past 7-8 years, Bader Models has also turned to creating yacht models, which has also instantly found success in the west. Mr. Bader says that he travels every month to the States for boat shows and to the Mediterranean. Without help, he says it would be difficult to manage as more often than not there are two shows that happen at the same time and he needs to manage them both, so he gets two sets of 12 boats made, each for a show and assigns his team to display one in one of the shows and at the same time he attends the other. The boat models include sail boats, speed boats, mega yacht and cruise ship. That’s what he is concentrating on in the States. Mr. Bader is on the way to solidifying his position as not only the best airplane model builder but also best quality boat models.
The internet, Mr. Bader says, has allowed him to reach to his target audience with the click of a button and reach them no matter where they are all over the world. Instagram is his favourite social media app and he says through Instagram he can reach up to 150,000,000 people who are specifically interested in aviation and who are his exact target market. Not only that but he can now easily send updates about his company to his database of 75,000 customers compared to before where he had to print out all his updates and mail them to everyone. Social media has also helped his company reach to places they wouldn’t have even imagined before. An example would be a man who saw their models on their Instagram page and placed an order from a village in Brazil. “…Now because of social media our reach is bigger, but of course also attending these exhibitions, you cannot do without attending the exhibitions because people want to see the quality of your models.” says Mr. Bader.
The hard work and end result of these models is displayed proudly by Mr. Bader in his Aviator Café. The walls are laden with various models, the largest collection being of his favourite 747 from various commercial carriers. Aviator Café is exclusively for friends of Mr. Bader who are from the aviation industry (such as pilots and those retired from the industry) or aviation enthusiasts like himself. The cafe, which is invite-only, has been designed by Mr. Bader himself and came about as a place for him and his friends to sit together and discuss the industry and their passion for it. The two-car-garage that has been transformed into the perfect spot to host around 40-50 people allows them to get social over the topic of aviation. Decorated with his accolades from the past – such as previous awards won and publications that featured him – , adverts about the airline industry from around the 1930s and 1940s, a variety of airplane models made by him mounted onto the walls including vintage, classic and modern jets. Mr. Bader says it took him only about a month to finish the construction and interiors but its took around 6 months to decorate the whole café and have it up and running. Though he already had airplane models available in his extensive collection, he made more to be added to the walls of the café. Circular airline seals, inspired by the shape of coins, also decorate one of his walls inside the cafe to show the airlines that he has made models of in his collection. That too was one of his own design and creation. The spacious Aviator Café is a prime example of passion coming to life through the eyes and hard work of Mr Bader as you are instantly in awe as soon as you open its neon-signed door.
The real magic, though, is what happens behind the scenes in the workshop where the models are made by hand. The extensive process, which can take up to 6 weeks for a plane and 3 months for a yacht, is carried out by the help of craftsmen in Mr Bader’s workshop. To simplify the process: first the wood is carved based on the requested model – all the plane models are built on request -then it is sanded, painted, and finally it goes to the artist for decals. Mr. Bader’s workshop is no less than a vault that has archived all of his creations thus far, be it planes, fighter jets, helicopters, spaceships or yachts. The models are exact replicas of the original planes whether they are old or new, big or small, and no matter what the airlines are. These models are not made as toys, but are specifically designed and built for decorative purposes and all the hard work that goes into making them reaps the rewards in the forms of a perfect model and happy customers who become regulars.
Bader Murad is a great example of the result of pursuing your passion and putting hard work into achieving it. He has no intention of slowing down any time soon as he plans to look into opening up aviation themed cafés in Bahrain. This is something, he says, he has wanted to do for a few years now and he hopes it soon sees the light of day.
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