Nuseir Yassin doesn’t like to waste his time. Yassin, 25, from the Lower Galilee town of Arraba, likes to say he’s “32 percent,” for the fraction of his life already spent. He even sells gray T-shirts emblazoned with a 32% timeline.
Which is why Yassin, who is currently traveling the world, took on a personal challenge: making a one-minute video on every day of his travels.
Having amassed a viral following on Facebook for his Nas Daily videos, Yassin recently arrived home in Israel, on day 315 of his travels, and much to his surprise, found it difficult to make videos about his birthplace.
“I thought it would be much easier here in Israel,” said Yassin. “But I was so off the mark, it’s really hard. I only have one shot at making a video, and because I know so much about the conflict in Israel, it’s hard to do. One minute is very little to tell it all.”
It’s a big admission for Yassin, a Harvard graduate who possesses, along with nearly accent-free English and an easy, charming manner, an intense drive to succeed.
He started making videos after quitting a well-paying job as a software engineer at PayPal and setting out to travel the world. With a plan to document his travels, and a belief that one never gets better at something if one doesn’t do it every day, he bought some expensive camera equipment and a drone, and set out to record his experiences.
“I never thought my life was worth vlogging,” said Yassin. “I’m just a 25-year-old hairy kid.”
No one looked at his first 150 videos. Nobody cared when he visited Israel back on day 200, either.
It was his video of cheap treats in Thailand (day 270) that eventually won 25 million views and netted him 250,000 followers. That was followed by his time in the Philippines, where he became a Facebook celebrity for his “How Cheap is the Philippines” (day 298) video.
Everyone wants to travel….and EVERYONE thinks it's expensive. So I made this video about a normal day with friends in Bangkok 😉 LIKE Nas Daily on Facebook!@NasDaily for lots of snapchats and insta!PS: the resort is called Prince Palace Hotel and I found the deal on Expedia, and my drone is DJI Phantom 4. And none of this stuff is sponsored. 🙂
Posted by Nas Daily on Tuesday, 3 January 2017
“I think I’m learning how to make better videos,” said Yassin. “My topics are now more relevant. It’s the difference between me getting coffee or talking about how expensive coffee is.”
Yassin has been to 47 countries so far, of which he has documented 25 on Nas Daily. Each video takes an average of about six hours to shoot and three hours to edit.
He also began focusing more on his words, and using more of them, finding that the script of the video was what “makes or breaks” it.
“I got better at storytelling,” he said.
When Yassin applied to Harvard at age 19, he was a good student but not the best, he said. It was his essay that clinched the acceptance. He wrote about the frustrations of not being able to pursue his dreams because of who he was, an Arab born in Israel, with all the limitations that entailed.
“There were things I wanted to do that I wouldn’t be allowed to because of where I was born,” said Yassin, who is the second of four kids, raised in a middle-class family by a psychologist father and mother who is a teacher. “I wanted to be an aerospace engineer because I really like space. But I didn’t go to the army. And in Israel, you have to be a pilot of some sort [in order to study aerospace engineering]. It was impossible for me here. I just wanted to focus on what I enjoy doing; I didn’t want to be thinking about bombs and Arab vs. Jew. I just want to have fun.”
He was wise about his choices, looking at the best universities that offered scholarships to international students. And he chose Harvard because he felt it wouldn’t limit his choices, whether he decided to be a politician or a computer engineer.
It was there that Yassin made his first Israeli friends, but preferred to just be “Nas,” his nickname — not an Israeli, not an Arab.
“I like to be a free soul,” he said.
Hence the inherent dissatisfaction he experienced with the daily grind at PayPal and the need to travel and see the world.
On day 315 of Yassin’s world travels, he came home again to Israel.
His video about prices in Tel Aviv earned half a million views (day 324), as did one about how safe it is in Israel. He also spent a day in Jerusalem recently, when he talked about how to make peace (day 325).
Israel: the prices of New York, the salaries of Detroit. P.S Thanks to everyone for coming out today. People ask me when I'm gonna stop Nas Daily. I mean, look at the people, why the hell would I ever stop? I get to make videos about ideas I believe in, and meet people I love. Crazy. LIKE Nas Daily on Facebook@NasDaily on Instagram too!
Posted by Nas Daily on Sunday, 26 February 2017
“I knew these would strike a chord,” said Yassin. “They’re things that my friends and I talk about, that Israel is expensive or how safe it is. A lot of people think I live in a war zone.”
He wants to nip those conceptions in the bud, which is why he doesn’t see the videos as merely travel pieces but something broader and more introspective, even if each is only a minute long.
Now he’s inviting his viewers to visit him in Arraba, to meet his family, and to bring Jews and Arabs together. That’ll be this Saturday, March 4, on day 326.
COME VISIT ME!This time I am having a meet-up and I'm having it in the most personal place ever: my home. In my 19 years living in Israel, I had no Jewish friends. We all live in different areas, so I'm using this as an opportunity to have my Arab and Jewish friends be…friends. And we get to talk about Nas Daily! ;)We will have snacks and shit, I think….But in short, this is an opportunity for us to meet, for you to explore new areas, and for all of us to have a nice Saturday night. So, why not? Bring anyone. P.S If you're a Filipino, I will be extra happy to welcome you at my home like you welcomed me at yours. Do come! ** DIRECTIONS **I live in Arraba, up north. Specifically, I live here: 32.859097, 35.339190. Put that on Google Maps and you should get a rough idea. It might be difficult to get here via bus, so a car is your best option. When you're on the highway near my GPS coordinate, take a right, then a slight right, keep going straight, then you'll see my house from the video. lol. I know some people are looking for rides from Jerusalem / Tel Aviv to come up. So let's make arrangements in the comment section. If anyone has a car, please write down in the comment section and I'm sure people will want to tag along with you / even pay you to come up. I'm not sure how many people will show up. But we'll be probably going from 4 pm until 8 pm or so. If 5 people show up, we can accommodate. If 100 people show up, we can accommodate, but please message me to get an idea. Ask for the home of Ziad Yassin, the Psychologist, when you get somewhere around this area. Maybe mention Nuseir, my name, as well. Or message me on this page. THANK YOU AND OMG SEE YOU SOON THIS IS EXCITING AND I'M NERVOUS!
Posted by Nas Daily on Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Yassin’s next stop is Morocco in another couple of weeks and he’s thinking about his next step in the vlogosphere.
He’s been offered a job with an Israeli TV channel and an option to collaborate with other celebrities, although he wouldn’t say whom.
He’s also thinking of pitching Amazon or Netflix to pay him to create short content. At the end of the day, he said, he knows his one-minute videos are a “stepping stone to something better.”