Noam Shuster-Eliassi playfully suggested tying the knot with the Saudi royal during an interview with Arabic-language channel i24. After lamenting that “nobody likes a tall and strong girl,” the unmarried 32-year-old entertainer complained that her family was pressuring her to find a husband, who told her that any man would do, even a non-Jew. Shuster-Eliassi, however, said she was hunting for a real Prince Charming.
“I don’t want to [marry] just any person. I want to shoot high,” Shuster-Eliassi told the i24 host. “There is the tall [Syrian President] Bashar Assad. But – no, no, no – he won’t work. MBS [Mohammed bin Salman]. MBS is a very tall man and I know that there are now… more relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” she quipped.
While the joke went unnoticed in Israel, it spread like wildfire across Arab social media, with several news sites even reporting the suggested match – which sounds like the premise of a poorly-conceived romantic comedy, or a deeply deranged Disney cartoon – as a serious proposal.
One Moroccan news site, for example, reported that Shuster-Eliassi “was courting bin Salman and wishing to tie a knot with him.”
Her comment circulated widely on the internet after Faisal al-Qassem, a well-known media personality in the Arab world, wrote a Facebook post about the unorthodox union. The joke was later picked up by BBC Arabic and Al-Jazeera.
Shuster-Eliassi has expressed surprise over the attention her seemingly innocuous joke has received.
“I did not expect by any means for it to explode in this way,” she told the Times of Israel. “I have never experienced something on this scale.”
She speculated that the faux proposal received so much media attention in the Arab world because it coincided with a US-led conference on the Middle East in Warsaw, which senior officials from Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states attended.
“The joke was that Saudi and Israel are already having secret meetings, so I asked for him to help me with being single and building my party,” she said. “The timing with the Warsaw summit is what made it take off. I think the Arab world used it as ammunition to say something about what is happening and the narrow interests that are leading the region.”