HE MAY be Iranian, but illusionist Mahdi Moudini feels Malaysian through and through.
Mahdi has felt at home in Malaysia ever since he arrived here in 1998 as a tourist.
“I fell in love with this country straight away.
“I could feel that I belong here the day I arrived,” said the magician, who was born Mahdi Moammer in a small town called Karaj, near Teheran.
According to Mahdi, the warmth shown by Malaysians and the variety of food here are the things that attracted him most.
“I just love the hot and spicy food. You can get it anytime, anywhere. The people here are so warm and friendly, it makes me feel at home,” said the 35-year-old, who comes from a family of renowned magicians.
His uncle is the world renowned Tora The Magician, while both his grandfather Ibrahim Moammer and father Esmaeil Moammer are also well-known magicians in Iran.
His younger sister, Parastu, is currently the only female professional magician in Iran and performs in Dubai, UAE.
As such, becoming a world-class illusionist was a natural progression for Mahdi, who is the only son of four siblings.
He first learned magic at the age of five and developed his skills over the years.
Currently, he performs extensively in Malaysia and the South-East Asian region.
“Malaysia has nurtured my magic skills.
“I love the vibe I get everywhere I go. I have never felt alienated in any way,” said Mahdi, who is known for his dazzling stage performances.
His two children, five-year-old Marchelin and Prince Maddix, 3, are quickly learning the tricks of the trade and look set to become the fourth generation of magicians in the family.
“I find Malaysia to be a safe place,” said Mahdi, who loves the pungent smelling durian, petai and traditional dishes such as lemang, dodol, wajik and ketupat.
“I have tried it all, from asam pedas, curry, lemak cili api, rendang, nasi kandar and almost all of the extensive Indian and Chinese dishes,’’ added the soft-spoken magician.
For Mahdi, seeing the different races interact with one another, enjoying each other’s food and wearing traditional costumes, is what makes Malaysia special.
What he looks forward to most is the various cultures and traditions that can be seen during festive seasons.
“It’s very unique and a joy to watch. I just love everything about Malaysia. Every time I return to Iran, I stay for only a week because I will be homesick.
“There is something for everyone here. Even the nightlife is pretty impressive, not to mention the scenic views and lush greenery,” said Mahdi.
Many have compared him to international magicians such as German-American duo Sigfried & Roy, David Copperfield, Criss Angel, Pen & Teller, Tabary, Jeff McBride, Rocco and Bill Malone.
Among Mahdi’s many awards are “Best Iranian Stage Magician 2012” and the “Most Extreme Magician 2013” from the International Magicians Society (IMS). He also holds two Merlin awards from IMS.
His feats include levitating along the iconic Kuala Lumpur Tower, making luxury cars, a Boeing 747 and a few VIPs vanish, as well as “chopping off” some dignitaries’ hands.
Other signature magic tricks include the Guillotine Head, Back-To-Life, Floating Table and Hand Chopper. Mahdi is also adept at handling fire and knives, as well as escaping after being tied up with rope.
One of the highlights for Mahdi is the opportunity to perform in front of international dignitaries, politicians and corporate leaders.
“This is just one of the perks of being a magician. No matter how far I travel, my thoughts are always on Malaysia, because it is like home to me,” he said.