The UAE's best-known magician and illusionist Moein Al Bastaki has new tricks up his sleeve... But don't get too close to him - he can and will read your mind.
Since he made the Burj Khalifa vanish and famous Arab celebrities fly, Moein has been busy working on new acts.
"I'm going to try this new one on you before anyone else, if that's ok with you" he says.
The 34-year old Emirati hands me an empty glass jug and asks me to hold it mid-air inside another glass container, to demonstrate his latest trick.
The controversial performer, who left me spellbound after his latest trick, is definitely not a sorcerer, but convincing others is harder than it seems.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, he explains how he “performed a mind-reading trick on the famous Kuwaiti actor Saad Al Faraj at an event and after he went home that night he could not sleep," explains Moein, "He said he was sure there was a Jinn involved and asked his team to bring someone to recite on him, because he was very uncomfortable, they tried to convince him that it was just a trick but it didn't help.
“The next day they asked me to talk to him and explain to him that it was just a trick!"
Moein Al Bastaki with Kuwaiti actor Saad Al Faraj
Moein’s popularity sky-rocketed especially since making the Kuwaiti actor Tareq Al-Ali “fly” which led his video going viral on YouTube, receiving 3 million views in just 4 days.
It was one of the most talked about acts in the Arab world.
Moein Al Bastaki with Kuwaiti actor Tareq Al-Ali
Moein performs locally and internationally, with continual appearances on TV, in magazines and online.
He considers himself lucky to have met most of the big celebrities from the Middle East.
He has also performed for famous personalities including Hollywood actor John Travolta, wrestler John Cena, Mike Tyson and Diego Maradona, who was left stunned after Moein showed him his ‘dancing in mid-air’ shisha trick.
When he performs his captivating tricks on TV, he informs viewers what he’s about to do is just an illusion and nothing to do with real magic, but viewers are still convinced that it’s all 100 per cent real.
Out of all the tricks he performs his all-time favourite is mind reading.
Al Bastaki with John Travolta
He also noticed that it was a skill missing from the Arab world, which was a plus point for Moein.
During the World Cup, he appeared as a guest on a TV show where his skills led him to predicting the exact scores of the match between Brazil and Croatia before the match began.
While that trick receives mind-blowing responses, there is just one problem with it.
“After these appearances I receive tons of emails and requests from people to solve their problems in life.
“One of them was from a woman who want me to turn her husband into a ring so she could wear him the whole time, I’ve also had requests for people to be teleported to other cities,” explains Moein.
How it all began
Moein’s fans have his grandfather and father to thank for developing his love of magic.
That passion became even firmly rooted when his father showed him footage of a well-known illusionist back in the day.
“I loved how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty vanish. That’s something that I wanted to do while growing up, and that was the path that led me to doing magic.”
The illusionist explains how his grand-dad travelled regularly to India for trade, and was dazzled by the street performers there.
He asked them to teach him a few tricks, which he then passed over to his grandson.
“He showed me one of the oldest tricks in the magic world called the coin bite, where you bite on it, the half bitten piece disappears, and reappears once again. That trick got me hooked to magic"
Al Bastaki with John Cena
Although Moein has tonnes of fans, the Emirati is not prone to backlashes for following his passion.
“Of course magic was not always accepted by my family. I have family members sometime back who threatened to report me to the police because I was ruining the family name, but now things have been amazing for me the performances everywhere”
He’s also received numerous attacks on Twitter from people who doubt what he’s doing are only just illusions.
On the other hand, the illusionist has received lots of encouragement across the Arab world, with many expressing their support for him opening doors for others from the region.
“I’m always asked if I would go to Las Vegas to perform, and I answer: No, why do I have to go?
“I think my people in the Arab world deserve to see my acts more than anyone else, they are my focus more than me going to Las Vegas.
“Magic to me is an art that’s so close to my heart, and I hope to encourage generations after me to go for their passion, so I’m never going to stop doing magic.”