x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Spellbound from the start

The Life: Montaser Al Mansouri, a 41-year-old Emirati first became enthralled by all things mystical at the age of 14 when he decided to become a master magician. It seems he has achieved his goal.

The Emirati magician Montaser Al Mansouri shows his tricks during a performance at Al Raha Mall in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National
The Emirati magician Montaser Al Mansouri shows his tricks during a performance at Al Raha Mall in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

Montaser Al Mansouri has been practising magic for most of his life. The Emirati, 41, first became enthralled by illusions at the age of 14 when he came across a man doing tricks with cigarettes at an expo show in Ras Al Khaimah. He says he was mesmerised and decided to one day become a master magician. It seems he's achieved his goal. Last year he became the first Arab national to win a Merlin award, the highest honour bestowed on magicians by the International Magicians Society in the United States. These days, Mr Al Mansouri makes his living by performing for both children and adults throughout the UAE, and in particular in Abu Dhabi where he lives.



I get up and have breakfast. At the moment I'm fasting during Ramadam so I don't eat in the morning, but usually I have eggs, cheese and bread. I follow this with Turkish coffee with no sugar. I spend the mornings talking with people - either on the phone in my villa in Abu Dhabi or meeting them in person to arrange up and coming magic shows. I do a lot of corporate events and am currently performing magic shows every day in Emirates Park Zoo and Al Raha Mall in Abu Dhabi.



During Ramadan I pray at 12.30pm and then stay at home for a couple of hours. I try not to practice magic at home as my wife doesn't like it. I've been doing magic for 26 years. I have 180 certificates both from the UAE and abroad, which prove my ability as a magician. When I was 14, I was taught by an Indian man called Mohammed Al Ali at a small stall in an expo in Ras Al Khaimah. I begged him to teach me everything he knew about magic and he agreed. The expo lasted for 13 days and I came every day. I devoured everything he taught me. I kept saying: "I want to learn more." He would laugh. "You are impossible," he would say. He told me I was a natural magician, because I appreciated not only the performance but the importance of the presentation. "I see it in your eyes," he used to say. "You perform as if it is black magic." Of course it was not black magic because black magic is harmful and what I do is never bad.



I perform my first show in Emirates Park Zoo. This is followed by another at 5.30pm and another at 7pm. Each show lasts for half an hour. I have two different shows for children, one for adults and one specifically for corporate events. Often I bring members of the audience on to the stage. It's a lot of fun. People of all ages love it.



Afterwards I return to my home for Iftar. I eat traditional Arabic food but I tend to eat lightly at this time as I'm still working and cannot relax. I then go to Al Raha Mall in Dubai, where I perform another show at 8.30pm. I'm in demand - I've done 280 shows in the last two months.



I return to Emirates Park Zoo for my last performance of the day. This is the one I enjoy the most. A lot of people come to the zoo at night at this time of year and the atmosphere is amazing. There are children running around and everyone seems to be smiling.



I sit in the coffee shop at the zoo and take Suhour. I usually stay there for a few hours and smoke shisha. I play magic tricks and people sit with me and talk. This is my favourite time of day. At 3.30am I go to the mosque to pray for one hour then I return home. I watch movies from time to time. I especially like action films and horror movies as I find them inspiring.



I go to bed at this time during Ramadan. Sometimes I dream of new tricks I can perform. I never tire of doing magic. It's my passion and I still get as excited about it as I did when I was a young boy.