Friday, 24 August 2018

NAS Daily in Singapore: Why I Hate Singapore, The Almost Perfect Country

Vlogger Nuseir Yassin travelling the world makes clip on Singapore
By Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 23 Aug 2018

A Palestinian-Israeli Harvard graduate has been travelling the world for the past 865 days, documenting experiences in different countries and uploading a one-minute video to his Facebook channel every day.

The social media star has about 7.6 million followers on Facebook and often gets over a million views for his videos.

Mr Nuseir Yassin, 26, the man behind the popular channel Nas Daily, has pledged to rack up 1,000 days on the road - telling the stories of people from Malta to Turkey and now, Singapore.

Yesterday, he hosted his largest spontaneous meet-up with his online followers, attracting at least 700 people outside the Singapore Indoor Stadium on a day's notice.

"I think a lot of people confuse what we do with fame or wanting fame... which is not necessarily true," he said. Rather, what keeps him going is the friendships he has made along the way.

Mr Yassin goes by the apt moniker "Nas", which means "people" in Arabic, and stresses that he is not making videos for the money.

"If I can change an opinion, that's all I want," he told The Straits Times. For example, some people may be afraid of visiting Turkey because they consider it dangerous. He said: "If I can change one person's opinion about Turkey being dangerous, I'm happy."

Among his most-watched productions is one on the shrinking of the Dead Sea, which has been watched close to 70 million times.

Realising a few years ago that he had lived close to a third of his life with many more things he still wanted to do, Mr Yassin saved US$60,000 (S$82,000) before quitting his US$120,000 a year software engineering job in the United States, where he worked for mobile payment service Venmo. He generates revenue of US$80,000 a month now - half from Facebook advertisements available on four long videos each month and the rest from brand deals that he accepts. He hopes to start a media company after his odyssey ends.

Singapore has struck a chord with Mr Yassin, who avoids making videos about politics or the "touristy" aspects of countries. Topics he found interesting as he did research for the Singapore video included Kampong Lorong Buangkok, the high certificate of entitlement prices for cars, the World Toilet Organisation which was founded here, and ministerial salaries. The Singapore one-minute video will be aired online today.

Mr Yassin's gathering yesterday attracted fans and curious on-lookers, including Singapore Institute of Technology undergraduate Avneet Singh, 23, who started following Nas Daily last year.

"Nas shares about different traditions around the world and it's pretty engaging. It's like Discovery Channel in a minute," he said.

Mr Hendric Tay, 30, who also left his job several years ago and co-founded a media platform, The Travel Intern, said: "Nas likes to tell human-centric stories. Sometimes, he simplifies things, but it helps people who are not exposed to different ideas and cultures to get a taste of what things are like elsewhere."

Nas Daily blogger: Videos on Singapore '100% not sponsored by anyone'
By Jan Lee, The Sunday Times, 1 Sep 2018

Popular travel blogger Nuseir Yassin, better known as the founder of Nas Daily, reiterated in a Facebook post on Thursday that his viral videos on Singapore were not sponsored.

The 26-year-old, famous for his one-minute clips that are uploaded daily, was responding to critics who claimed that he was paid to produce the video series.

These include Why I Hate Singapore, in which he explains that he is jealous of Singapore's world-class food and racial and religious harmony, and one introducing Changi Airport as the world's best airport.

He also posted videos about the lives of ordinary Singaporeans titled Crazy Poor Asians, referencing the Hollywood movie Crazy Rich Asians by Singapore-born author Kevin Kwan. He featured the freegan movement here, as well as a swim school for babies. The videos have since racked up between 1.7 million and 8.3 million views each, with the most watched being How Singapore Cleans, a video on the country's landfill system.

Some netizens claimed that the videos, which came with disclaimers that they are not sponsored, largely focused on the positive aspects of Singapore as they were paid for by the authorities.

They also implied that the videos were veiled advertisements and questioned Mr Yassin on how much he was paid for them.

One example was Facebook user Lee Yew Hoong, who asked: "Was wondering, how much did the (Government) pay him?"

In response, Mr Yassin said: "My videos in Singapore are 100 per cent not sponsored by anyone. I came here by myself, spent my own money, to make my own videos about your country. And I need to make sure everyone is aware of that."

He added that he felt disheartened that his works were being discredited due to "unfounded allegations".

He wrote that he wanted to focus on the positive and showcase the best of the world "because mainstream media focuses far too often on the negative".

He had echoed this sentiment during an interview with The Straits Times' executive editor Sumiko Tan, where he emphasised that Nas Daily focuses on the positive as he wants to show people "what's best in a way that's respectful and in a way adds some value".

Mr Yassin's defenders also chimed in on the over 1,000 comments that his post had garnered.

Facebook user Ezen Ho said: "The only reason why these videos look sponsored is because they seem to dig deeper into infrastructure or places that people think require access. But I'm guessing the fact is that when you make an outreach call to your followers... everyone comes forward with their own contacts and networks to help you get the data, the facts, the best shooting location and hideouts... that's not sponsored, that's called influence! "

Mr Yassin, who leaves Singapore tomorrow, hosted his largest spontaneous meet-up with his online followers last week outside the Singapore Indoor Stadium. At least 700 people turned up on just a day's notice.

Nas Daily blogger says 'no regrets' about travel videos on Singapore as he bids goodbye to fans
Video blogger proud of Singapore clips
Country is a 'fun' place and made him feel he could stay here and belong, says Nuseir Yassin
By Tee Zhuo, The Straits Times, 3 Sep 2018

Popular video blogger Nuseir Yassin, better known as the creator of Nas Daily, said goodbye to fans in Singapore a few days early yesterday afternoon.

More than 750 people turned up for a farewell meet-up at Mediacorp's MES Theatre for the 26-year-old, who is famous for the one-minute travel videos he produces on his Facebook channel.

Speaking to The Straits Times after the two-hour event, Mr Yassin said the word he would use to describe Singapore is "fun", and that the country made him feel he could stay here and belong.

"I was a dumb tourist, only knew it was a finance hub and didn't know anything about the locals. But Singapore completely changed my mind," he said.

He added that he had "zero regrets" and was proud of the work he had done here. "To capture what matters to Singaporeans... reflecting the local reality to people who don't live here, that's hard. This is why I like what we do."

Since arriving, Mr Yassin has produced several videos on the country, including those featuring its waste management system and the lives of ordinary Singaporeans.

His videos about the city-state have racked up more than 40 million views in total since the first was posted on Facebook on Aug 23, and have been shared widely by locals and international followers alike.

Audience member Amin Mas, 34, who hails from Sri Lanka, said he was also at the first meet-up. The Aug 22 event drew over 700 people on a day's notice.

Singaporean fan Olivia Ong, 26, said that she has watched Nas Daily videos for over two years and respects the dedication and effort.

"I felt the Singapore videos were pretty accurate, although 'Crazy Poor Asians' probably overcompensated and made the average Singaporean seem a bit poorer than we actually are," said the business analyst.

Mr Yassin revealed that his next video would be about Newater, Singapore's brand of recycled water, and joked on stage that he should be getting paid for it.

ST reported on Friday that some netizens had suggested his videos were sponsored by the authorities here due to the largely positive content. Mr Yassin told ST yesterday that not many expect someone to be positive without being paid.

"If you don't think something is worth celebrating just because of your political orientation, then it reflects badly on you, because you can't see beyond politics," he added.

Although yesterday's event was meant to be a farewell, Mr Yassin shared that he would in fact be staying in Singapore for another three or four days. His visa application to Indonesia, the next planned destination, had been rejected.

He said that he hopes his Singaporean fans will continue to watch the videos even if these are not about their country.

"I hope that they will still watch even if it's about a place that's 10,000 miles away. Because as good as Singapore is, it can be even better, and that's what Nas Daily is about - finding the best in the world," he said.

1.5 years ago...I was in Singapore, at this exact location celebrating 100,000 followers alone. I had a feeling it was gonna be my last celebration because it was so hard to get to 100k that I didn’t think it’s possible to reach 200k. It honestly felt impossible. But I kept on making these videos: the good, the bad, the shallow and the average. Day after day after day. It was excruciating, but it was also the most meaningful thing I could imagine doing. And today, here we are at the exact same spot celebrating 8 million followers and meeting the Prime Minister of Singapore - one of the most powerful people in the world who also happens to watch Nas Daily. It’s amazing what obsessive, hard work and luck can get you. 128 days to go to finish this 1,000 day journey. And it’s only gonna get harder. Thank you for the picture and the ride: @projectnightfall
A post shared by Nas Daily (@nasdaily) on


Nas Daily vlogger on Singapore: If they can solve so many problems in 53 years, then why can't we?
By Timothy Goh, The Straits Times, 18 Sep 2018

The creator of popular video series Nas Daily, Mr Nuseir Yassin, left Singapore almost a week ago but that did not keep him from posting another video about the country on Monday (Sept 17).

Titled The Almost Perfect Country, the video, which is almost 5min long, is a departure from Mr Yassin's usual style of short, one-minute clips.

In it, the video blogger calls Singapore "a country that has the same problems as (the rest of the world), but has managed to find solutions".

Among the "solutions" featured in Mr Yassin's video are Singapore's multi-racial housing policy, limits on the number of cars, and Newater.

Mr Yassin said: "When I saw the way they build and do things, from water systems, to airports, to buildings, to gardens, I was amazed because all the problems above, they solved in 53 years since they gained independence."

The video also featured a guest appearance by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is filmed walking at the Gardens by the Bay.

In the video, Mr Lee said: "This is what we have been building in Singapore for 53 years, and we'll be building it for many more years to come."

Mr Lee later shared Mr Yassin's video on his Facebook page, saying that he was glad to have caught up with Mr Yassin, and that the latter's perspective on Singapore is "fresh and unique".

He added: "Often, an outsider can help us see ourselves in a new light."

Mr Yassin acknowledged in his video that Singapore has its fair share of problems, including inequality, high prices, the low wages of foreign workers, and the Government being too restrictive.

However, he also said: "Singapore has many problems, but unlike many (other countries), they are trying to fix them."

The vlogger added: "I love Singapore because there's a lot we can learn from them! If they can solve so many problems in 53 years, then why can't we?"

Nas Daily vlogger hits back at criticism against 'almost perfect country' praise, says Singaporeans 'lack perspective'
Too many in Singapore lack perspective, says vlogger
He makes remark in response to Facebook post decrying his videos praising Republic
By Jan Lee, The Straits Times, 21 Sep 2018

Popular travel vlogger Nuseir Yassin has said too many people in Singapore "lack perspective", as he hit back at critics who decried his videos on the city state, one of which lauded it as an "almost perfect" country.

The creator of Facebook page Nas Daily was responding to a post on another Facebook page, The Alternative View. The post said: "Nuseir Yassin professes to be an authority on (Singapore) after spending only a few days here."

It said Mr Yassin should "walk the talk" and take up citizenship in Singapore and experience the local living conditions as an average citizen.

The post, uploaded on Tuesday, made reference to several hotly debated topics in Singapore, including Housing Board flats' 99-year leases, mandatory national service, the Central Provident Fund and the quality of train service.

The post had a photo of Mr Yassin and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who met the 26-year-old Palestinian-Israeli when he was in Singapore during his trip that began last month.

Mr Yassin responded pointedly to the post in a comment. "I have a better idea: Why doesn't everyone here try to live in the Middle East for a little bit?" He highlighted his struggles as an Arab Muslim raised in the Jewish state of Israel, the frequent wars that the country engages in and how he would much prefer to live in Singapore.

He added: "One thing my travels have taught me is that a lot of people lack perspective. And in Singapore, too many people lack it."

He ended his post by implying that his critic is living in a "bubble" and is a crybaby.

His comment has since garnered around 5,500 reactions, far surpassing the 1,300 times the original post was shared.

Many netizens were supportive of Mr Yassin's remarks. Netizen Syzra Zahara K. Sultan said: "I apologise on behalf of my countrymen for their negative views and perspective of your amazing videos. Continue what you do best."

Some, however, felt it was unfair of Mr Yassin to compare his personal experiences with that of Singaporeans. Netizen Aleya Gaba said: "Just because other people struggle in a way that you perceive to be 'worse' doesn't mean our struggles are invalid. Our country is beautiful, clean, safe, but it's also deeply, deeply flawed."

Mr Yassin, who has over 8.2 million followers on Facebook, had previously clarified that his videos on Singapore were not sponsored, despite being largely positive. The videos look at various aspects of Singapore, including its waste management system and the lives of ordinary Singaporeans.

The Harvard graduate, who quit his job to travel the world, is currently in China.


Travel vlogger Nas Daily to move to Singapore

'I'm putting my money where my mouth is,' says Nas Daily vlogger
By Jan Lee, The Straits Times, 23 Mar 2019

Many locals first took notice of popular video blogger Nuseir Yassin when he made clips about Singapore last year. The overwhelmingly positive coverage led some to wonder if he was being paid to endorse the city state.

Mr Yassin, 27, said his move to Singapore, announced on Instagram on Wednesday (March 20), was the best retort to sceptics: "Doesn't this show that I'm not bull****ting and I'm putting my money where my mouth is?

"The videos I made about Singapore were genuine and I really enjoyed my time there."

He has 12 million followers for his Nas Daily Facebook page.

He added that since he completed his goal of posting one video every day for 1,000 days in January, he had wanted to spend more time on his company, Nas Daily Inc, which is currently based in the United States.

While Tel Aviv, Berlin, New York and San Francisco were all considered, he decided to move his business to Singapore. He and his girlfriend, as well as his team, will head here next month.

He said over the telephone from Israel: "It's near a lot of countries that I find interesting, like the Philippines, India, Malaysia and Maldives.

"And it's an easy place to do business in. There's minimal corruption and established guidelines - if you're good, you'll get work."

He is looking to hire a team of both foreigners and locals and is already scouring for talent as he "loves the Singaporean work ethic".

And he has big plans for his company.

"Ideally, one day, I'd like to have 1,000 employees. I'm starting from media, then moving on to conferences and summits, and then tech and finance. I want to do everything and create a Nas brand."

While he will still be travelling for work and no time frame has been set for his stay, Singapore will be his home once the move is finalised.

Does this mean he will do more Singapore-centric videos?

"I think I've done enough videos about Singapore. But I still want to do videos about Singaporeans and the interesting things people are doing here."

The Palestinian-Israeli is already planning a summit here on April 20 to meet his followers as well as fellow content creators and creatives.

The Harvard graduate said: "I want my company to work with local organisations, but right now I have no ties and I'm not supported by any Singaporean investors or the Government, not the Singapore Tourism Board, not IMDA (Info-communications Media Development Authority) and not Enterprise Singapore."

There are some though who are less than thrilled about Mr Yassin's planned move.

More than 2,800 people have signed a petition, addressed to IMDA, to ban him from entering Singapore, implying that he was seeking to start his own religion and saying his videos "contain stereotypical and also brainwashing elements and subliminal messages".

In response to queries from The Straits Times, IMDA said it "welcomes content creators from around the world to participate in Singapore's vibrant infocomm and media ecosystem and create innovative content for global audiences".

The petition did not worry Mr Yassin.

"I will continue to be respectful to the places I go and if there are people who hate, hey, that makes life a bit more interesting. It adds some spice."

His excitement for his move was palpable even over the telephone.

"You know, people tell me, just you wait for the 7 per cent sales tax here. Guess what? I am looking forward to it, because right now I pay 17 per cent."

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