Amin Abbas Dubai
A specialized UAE-based hobby shop Otaku ME caters to customers in Gulf countries around the Middle East, offering Japanese Gundam plastic model kits and hobby supplies.
Otaku ME was founded in 2013 by Qais Sedki, who is an Emirati with a passion for Gundam model kits.
“Otaku ME started it’s official capacity in 2013, but the business activities picked up momentum a few years after that,” Sedki said. “Everything before 2013 was just myself testing the demand for plastic model kits in the region.”
Sedki said that one of the challenges the shop faced was that many people are unfamiliar with the plastic model making kit hobby.
“We find ourselves playing the role of educators as well as retailers and distributors. It brings us a lot of joy to introduce an exciting hobby like this to someone who might have never heard about it before,” he added.
Sedki told Arab News Japan that at the beginning of the business, the focus was on Gundam model kits.
“We have since added scale model kits (such as cars, tanks, planes, etc…) from a variety of manufacturers such as Tamiya, Aoshima, Finemolds, Fujimi, Zvezda, Italeri, and more. Another very popular product line is Tamiya’s competitive Mini 4WD series that attracts many racers from different nationalities to compete at Otaku ME,” he said.
Sedki explained that customers enjoy the popular Gundam model kits as Bandai Spirit is well known within the industry.
“Many of our customers continue to come back to build more Gundam kits for the joy of putting together posable Gundam kits without having to use paint or glue,” he said.
Sedki had picked up his first Gundam modeling kit back in 2007 during a business trip in Tokyo. He also added that what distinguishes Oktaku ME from other collectible retailers is the fact that all the employees are hobbyists and modelers.
“This makes it very easy to chat with customers who are established in the hobby themselves and allows us to explain the hobby well to any newcomers who are interested to learn,” he said.
Otaku ME also conducts workshops and mini competitions, as well as large annual contests, during which international professional modelers participate as judges.
“We are in a continuous mode of development in our business. We are almost done with a complete revamp of our website that will add lots of features that our customers will enjoy on top of performance upgrades to make the online shopping experience a much nicer one,” Sedki said.