Emirati magician prepares for Netflix show, says representing Arab identity is important

He says that people’s initial reaction to seeing him perform is always one of shock


Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Mon 12 Dec 2022, 2:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 12 Dec 2022, 3:53 PM

A magician is a good actor playing the role of a magician, according to Emirati magician Moein Al Bastaki.

Moein, who learnt his first magical tricks from his grandfather who was a pearl diver and trader, said that people’s initial reaction to seeing him perform is always one of shock. “They say: we didn’t think that we’d find someone from this region to do magic. They don’t expect to see someone wearing a kandoura, ghutra and igal doing magical tricks,” he said.

In fact, he feels very strongly about maintaining his Arab identity that he said he never wants to be called ‘The David Copperfield of the Arab world'. “This is a specific kind of art; you can’t be someone who already exists… I want to be me, I’m from this region,” he said.

Moein has performed for international stars such as John Travolta, Maradona, John Cena, Fabio Cannavaro and Arab stars such as Hayat Al Fahd, Abdul Hussein Abdul Rida, Intisar Al Sharah, Ahmad El Sakka and Ahmad Bedeer.

Today, he is working on a Netflix show which is set to release in the fourth quarter of 2023, titled ‘The Arabian Mirage: East Meets West’ . It will be filmed in many countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UK, Netherlands and India. The idea is to do magic with an Arabic flavour, he said, saying that of the props will include a sheesha, a ‘flying’ carpet, a levitating coffee cup.

“I’ll be a magician with an Arab identity who will go around and do beautiful magic,” he said. While some of the tricks he will be doing for the show “will cause a lot of noise”, Moein also hopes to be able to educate viewers about the Arab world and culture.

Speaking about his beginnings in the art of magic, Moein said that when he was a child, his grandfather called him and showed him a coin trick and that immediately ignited his love for the art. His late father, who owned a videotapes store on the creek, would get him tapes for famous magicians like David Copperfield.

But he wasn’t too enthused when Moein told him, right after finishing high school, that he wanted to be a magician. “I was told to go study and to stop this nonsense.” So, he did study and got his MBA, but didn’t stop performing magic. “I’m currently a manager at a bank so performing magic isn’t my only source of income,” he said.

Even though his aim is to entertain people, Moein has also had his fair share of backlash, especially after a TV episode in 2010 where he made Emirati singer Abdullah Bilkheir disappear from his home and appear in the studio then made him disappear again from the studio and appear in his home. “I told them that I would do it but had no idea how to pull it off. I only had four days to prepare for it,” he said.

The next day it became the talk of the town, people were calling morning radio shows and criticising him. “We’re talking about a time when people didn’t know how to differentiate between black magic and a visual illusion. In the Arab world everything was magic - black magic. You can’t make someone disappear and appear, you can’t read people’s mind, you must be dealing with some supernatural powers,” he said.

Moein said that on one of the tapes that his father got him, he saw David Copperfield making the statue of liberty vanish and immediately knew that he would do something like that in the future. A few years after the illusion with Abdullah Bilkheir, on another TV show, he made the Burj Khalifa “disappear” to amazed onlookers. “When I did this trick, I worried,” he said, adding that he now has a disclaimer that he uses when he does any TV appearance. “I tell them that anything they’re about to see is an illusion and has nothing to do with me communicating with any kind of supernatural power or a different world,” he said.


People close to him, like his father and sister, were also against his choice to perform magic. He said that his nephew watched one of his videos at school but didn’t tell his classmates that he was his uncle. “When I became famous though, my father would show DVDs of my shows to his friends in the majlis,” he said.

Educating people about the art of magic and changing their belief about what he does is important for him. “There’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing. I’m not a rebel but I’m trying to educate people. If I had supernatural powers, I would have known lottery numbers and if there was a crash coming. It’s an illusion,” he said adding that he believes that Arabs must be present in this form of art. “I want my magic to be convincing enough for people to think that it might be something real and to be presented in a way that would make me compete with the bigger names in the world,” he said.

Sometimes, people come to him with personal requests thinking he can perform actual magic. Once, after a show a man came to him and asked him to cure his son of a brain tumour. “I told him he’s come to the wrong person and that he needs to go to the doctor.”

He also tells stories of people asking him to tell them who robbed their home or to even help with marital issues. After the illusion of teleportation, people wrote to him asking if they could be teleported to their loved ones. “I wish I really had that power, myself. People come to me because they’re desperate because they’ve tried everything,” he said.

Moein performs for special events, corporate events and children’s parties and says that children do the most unexpected things. For instance, at a birthday party, he made a rat appear in a box and got a reaction he didn’t expect. “Grownups are scared of it, but the birthday girl wanted to pet it and keep it.”

Sometimes people ask him to learn some tricks and he said he usually has a couple of tricks up his sleeve for those who are interested. He also sells magic boxes to teach those who are interested in learning a few tricks.

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