x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Emirati illusionist wants to levitate across Abu Dhabi Corniche

Moein Al Bastaki is seeking permission to levitate with the flag on December 2 to commemorate the UAE's 41st National Day.

Moen Al Bastaki, an Emirati Illusionist, is preparing for his next big trick: to levitate. He plans to perform the trick on National Day, either on the Walk in Dubai or on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. Lee Hoagland / The National
Moen Al Bastaki, an Emirati Illusionist, is preparing for his next big trick: to levitate. He plans to perform the trick on National Day, either on the Walk in Dubai or on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. Lee Hoagland / The National

DUBAI // An illusionist is aiming to take National Day celebrations to new heights on December 2 by levitating in front of a crowd of spectators.

Moein Al Bastaki plans to perform the trick at either Jumeirah Beach Residence or Abu Dhabi's Corniche, provided he can obtain the necessary permissions from the authorities. He will carry a UAE flag that he will wave as he ascends.

"On December 2 there will be a live levitation happening," he said. "We are still working on the location and running after permissions to do the whole thing. We need to talk to police and other organisations.

"In the UAE the thing we find some difficulties with is getting permissions to do illusions in the street, but we have a good two months until December 2 and hopefully it will happen.

"With my illusions I try to have audience involvement. This will not be a camera trick, people will be there to watch it live and they can video it on their phones and put it on YouTube.

"It will be levitation live in front of them in the street with no special set like we usually have when we do illusions on stage."

The flying trick will be the latest in a series of eye-popping stunts that Mr Al Bastaki, a 32-year-old Emirati from Dubai, has performed both live and on TV. He also appears in stage shows and performs at private events.

Next month, he will be appearing at a James Bond-themed party at the British Embassy to mark the release of the new 007 film, Skyfall.

All this is accommodated around his day job as a compliance manager at a bank.

His most ambitious trick so far involved making the Burj Khalifa seem to vanish, but he has also made people appear and disappear and set himself on fire. He had to cancel plans for one stunt, however, because of disquiet about magic among some Muslims.

"I was thinking of doing an illusion where I buried myself alive," he said. "I would bury myself, have a span of time underground and then I'd come up again. It went in the newspaper that I was going to do this, and then I had this trail of attacks coming towards me on internet forums and all that.

"People did not accept the whole concept of me burying myself alive because this is quite a sensitive area in the religion, so I backed off. I didn't do it. It was to do with the whole concept of magic in this region."

He said that before he made his first appearance on TV he feared he would be attacked for performing illusions.

"The whole fear in my mind was, would the society accept the whole thing that I would be doing? Would my parents accept the whole thing, the family, the whole Arab world?

"Doing illusions is new in the Arab world. In the United States people accept the whole theme of illusion and they know the difference between magic and illusion. But in our region we are getting to that point of maybe illusion is fine.

"Before I start a performance I always say, 'Whatever I'm going to be doing right now is illusion, it is nothing to do with magic'. It might look magical, but there is a secret that I know and the audience doesn't."

He often wears a kandura when he performs, even when he addresses the audience in English.

He says he wants to give the act "a different kind of look. I want people to relate to what I'm doing. If I'm in a kandura the Gulf people will sort of relate to that and say, 'This is somebody from us that can do this'."

 

csimpson@thenational.ae