INDONESIA — Popular travel vlogger Nuseir Yassin, or more famously known as Nas from Nas Daily on social media, has once again sparked controversy after posting a video claiming that Bali is “The Whitest Island in Asia.”
The 31-year-old influencer gave Bali this nickname as he observed many white foreign tourists vacationing and living on the Island of a Thousand Temples.
“She is white. He is white. And they are white. This is the whitest village in all of Asia!” Mr Yassin said in a video posted on his official Instagram account (@nasdaily) on 8 February.
In the same video, Mr Yassin said that Bali has successfully captured the attention of the Western world.
He listed four reasons for this, including Bali’s natural wealth, which has many rice fields.
“One, the nature. It’s stunning! Rice field after rice field. Everything around you is green,” said Mr Yassin.
The second reason, Mr Yassin mentioned, is that Bali has good hospitality. He even mentioned that Bali has some of the best hotels in the world with excellent Indonesian service.
The third reason, Mr Yassin touched on prices in Bali, especially food that is very affordable according to foreign tourists.
“Everything here (in Bali) is very affordable, to white tourists at least,” Mr Yassin continued in the video while showing a serving of burger and fries, and said the price is only for US$4 (approximately Rp60,760).
In closing his content, Mr Yassin said the reason foreign tourists choose to travel to Bali is to ride a scooter. “No subway system. No bus. Just scooters in green beautiful rice fields,” he said.
Netizens say Bali’s locals are underpaid and nature is over-exploited
The one-minute and 30-second video immediately drew criticism from Indonesian netizens.
Some netizens were disturbed by how Mr Yassin introduced Bali by highlighting white skin colour. Others felt that the opinion video did not represent Bali as a whole because of the many social-economic issues affecting the local people.
One Instagram user reminded Mr Yassin that his footage only showed a few tourist-popular restaurants in Canggu, a resort village on the south coast of Bali, which does not represent the island as a whole.
“Second, we don’t need more tourists – we need more organizations helping us to educate businesses to be more conscious – to grow, not over-exploit,” he said, addressing the fact that locals are underpaid and nature is over-exploited.
“Tourists act like a saviour by just paying $4 in a restaurant and disobeying the law because they think they help the poor by being here. ”
In response, Mr Yassin defended the fact that Bali’s economy is mainly dependent on tourism, stating that “saying ‘we don’t need more tourists’ is basically depriving the majority of the population of revenue.”
Bali still struggling to recover
In Mr Yassin’s footage, several foreign tourists were filmed riding scooters bareheaded and joyously zipping through the “green beautiful rice fields” .
But Instagram user @sallyyaugusta expressed disappointment at how Mr Yassin depicted her hometown.
“The media doesn’t cover the fact that there are hundreds of scooter accidents because of foreigners driving around without caution or a helmet, or that the locals are struggling to afford basic needs from an economic recession post-covid, or The “nature” that is actually damaged because of the impact of tourism. ”
As a Balinese, she confessed that she dislikes the overall impact of the tourism tsunami, which is extremely disappointing behaviour.
“And to make such “content” is just plain ignorant and honestly disrespectful. I understand the video means no harm, but Bali is small, and this kind of video can definitely bring up some controversy. ”
Given that Bali is still struggling to recover, Sally suggested that Mr Yassin create content that actually educates future tourists and helps the locals instead.
Netizen @lolalu84 commented that Mr Yassin’s video seemed to depict an influx of foreign tourists in Bali, but without addressing how the gentrification might affect the locals.
Mr Yassin replied: “Oh so I thought about this for long. I am a big believer that tourism helps local industries a LOT. The net effect in my book is positive. ”
However, he then deferred to the local government to decide how to control the influx of tourists.
Mr Yassin’s other controversial content
This is not the first time Mr Yassin has produced content that has offended the locals wherever he has been.
In 2018, Mr Yassin referred to Singapore as an “almost perfect” country, which drew significant criticism from Singaporeans who felt that he did not accurately capture the reality of living there. In addition, the appearance of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the video also angered the public.
In 2021, Louise Mabulo, a young entrepreneur from the Philippines and the founder of The Cacao Project, took to Facebook to share her negative experience with the content creator back in 2019.
She said that Mr Yassin had mocked local people and only cared about creating content that would generate clicks. She called him out for being “exploitative” and promoting a “neo-colonialist narrative.”
Mr Yassin was also accused of “exploiting” Apo Whang-od Oggay, a revered Filipino tattoo artist who was 104 years old at the time, created a traditional tattooing course on Nas Academy platform allegedly without consent from Whang-Od.
Nas interviewed disgraced FTX founder, deleted the video after Sam Bankman-Fried went bankrupt
Before the cryptocurrency platform FTX went bankrupt, Mr Yassin flew all the way from Dubai to Bahamas in January 2022 to interview the FTX founder and chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried(SBF), and even called SBF, “The most generous billionaire in the world”.
“Sam has crazy hair! Sam is vegan! Sam sleeps five hours a night! Sam lives in the Bahamas with ten roommates. Sam is 29 years old only! But Sam has $22 billion. And he wants to donate all of it to charity. But why?”
Mr Yassin boasted that SBF “is not a traditional billionaire because he believes in the concept of ‘earn to give’, which means his goal as a human is to make as much money as possible just to give it away.”
However, after FTX went bankrupt in the United States and SBF himself was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for defrauding customers of billions of dollars, Mr Yassin’s official social media platform Nas Daily had since deleted the video featuring SBF.
The full video is still available on Mr Yassin’s personal LinkedIn, and other netizens have reuploaded the video on Youtube: