QUETTA: Fahad Ishaq and his brother Qadeer are busy arranging chairs and tables as visitors arrive from different parts of Gwadar to enjoy sips of tea and watch the sunset from their three-storey boat cafe – the first of its kind in the southwest Pakistani port.
Opened in May, Cafe Padizar takes its name from the beach it’s docked on, which overlooks the high, rocky cliffs of Balochistan’s coast and the Arabian Sea.
The boat, owned by Ishaq’s family, was left unused for years after its engines failed.
In 2021, after graduating with a degree in business administration, Ishaq decided to put his degree to good use and began renovating the old ship.
Along with his brother, the 21-year-old invested Rs 1.5 million (US$7,200) to restore the boat and two years later turned it into a meeting place – one of the few in the impoverished, underdeveloped region.
“We decided to convert the boat into a cafe,” Ishaq told Arab News. “The internal parts of the boat were completely damaged, now there is room for more than 100 customers.”
The café serves tea, coffee and snacks, but the brothers plan to add more food to the menu and provide jobs for more people.
“Right now we have hired six people to serve customers,” Ishaq said. “But we have plans to expand the cafe.”
In Balochistan, a sparsely populated mountainous region bordering Afghanistan and Iran, business ventures are not always a surefire success. Though Gwadar is the center of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, it has reaped few fruits from the multi-billion dollar infrastructure and energy plan.
Café Padizar isn’t the only business Ishaq operates. His company BOASIS Tourism specializes in bringing visitors from Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad to the sandy beaches of Balochistan.
“Tourism and travel have been my passion since I was a child,” he said. “Cafe Padizar will help promote tourism in Gwadar.”
The café, the first of its kind in Gwadar, has so far been successful in attracting customers, something entirely new in a city where the last cinema closed almost two decades ago.
A customer, Aurangzaib Abdul Rauf, said that only fishermen used to be able to enjoy the view, which now everyone could enjoy from the upper deck of the former fishing boat.
“The cafe attracts tourists from surrounding towns,” he told Arab News. “Most of us come here in the evenings to enjoy the sea covered by the mountains.”