About Dubai: “I love Dubai,” he gushed. “Absolutely love it. The world has so much to learn from this place. It’s a microcosm of our world.” He leaned in and smiled, hovering only inches from my face. “Dubai is wrestling with identity issues in a way that mirrors the conflicts of the world.” What kind, I wondered aloud. “For example: to be traditional or modern?” he said. “To be religious or secular?” In the midst of these questions, he leaned in again and said, “Emotions are everywhere.”
To understand how Shapiro ended up becoming a champion of emotions, it may help to know that ever since he was a child, he has shown a mesmeric talent for making people happy. At age 7, in suburban Harrisburg, Pa., he began taking magic lessons after happening upon “The Amateur Magician’s Handbook” at a local bookstore. He went on to hold one-man shows, using the stage name Magic Dan, for birthday parties, senior citizens and Boy Scouts. He had his own distinctive cape and hat, and for a charge of $3 to $5, he would pluck coins from behind unsuspecting ears, link and unlink rings and magically color a blank coloring book. In sixth grade, he developed a personalized assessment tool to figure out which students in his class were left-brained and which were right-brained. As a teenager, he was the rare kid who was everyone’s friend — from the jocks to the Goths.