Emirati magician becomes first Arab to win 'double Oscars' for magic

An Emirati magician has been honoured with a Merlin award for the second time in his career.
"The Merlin is like the Oscars of magic," says the Emirati magician Muntaser Al Mansouri, with his trophies. Satish Kumar / The National
"The Merlin is like the Oscars of magic," says the Emirati magician Muntaser Al Mansouri, with his trophies. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // An Emirati magician has become the first Arab to receive two Merlin awards for his art, the highest honour offered by the International Magicians Society.

The award has been bestowed on renowned acts such as David Copperfield and Criss Angel. Now Dr Montaser Al Mansouri, who performs daily at Emirates Zoo in Abu Dhabi, can claim a double entry on the same roll of honour.

“The Merlin is like the Oscars of magic,” he said. “I’m happy to get the Merlin award and it’s big for a magician, the UAE and for Arabs.”

Dr Al Mansouri caught the attention of the International Magicians Society after giving more than 70,000 performances in the course of 25 years – an average of more than six shows a day.

Tony Hassini, the chairman and chief executive of the International Magicians Society, said not everyone who received the award was world famous.

“We look for showmanship, skills and talent, and so it’s an award that the magician has to work hard for. The idea is to be persistent, and stay with it and get it,” he said.

Emirates Zoo flew the chairman from New York to Abu Dhabi to present the award.

“Some of the greatest magicians who received this award worked in adventure parks. This is where the audiences are. They do five to six shows a day to mass audiences like Disneyland,” Mr Hassini said.

Magicians who perform daily in parks, he added, honed their skills over time. “They get more skilled and then get more shows.”

Dr Al Mansouri said: “I could make an airplane disappear in Dubai Airport and make it appear at Abu Dhabi Airport.” But for now, the magician is set to continue to entertain crowds at the zoo by appearing to make snakes and tigers vanish.

Another Emirati magician, Moein Al Bastaki, who created the illusion of the Burj Khalifa disappearing last year, said he had been offered the award last year. “I was told I had to book the tickets and the venue. If I had to pay to get the award I was not interested in getting it,” he said.

Mr Hassini, however, insisted the award was not for sale. “One way is to receive it is at the banquet dinner in Las Vegas, and there is another in Saigon. Those who want an award will have to travel there,” he said.

“When we nominated an Arab magician, we hoped to educate the Arab public. It is possible to bring in some magicians here. Not David Copperfield, he is too expensive, but someone of the same calibre, and do a tour of major cities and do it as an art and not as a black magic show.”



Published: June 12, 2013 04:00 AM


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