Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

A Hologram for the King


Tom Hanks is a salesman sent to Saudi Arabia to sell a holographic computer system to the people who are building a fantastic planned city in the desert, with an expected population of a million and a half. But when he gets there what he finds is a lot of sand, with roads sketched in, a big tent, and only two buildings, just one of which is finished and occupied. And the run-around begins. The man who he is supposed to meet never shows up. Day after day, he is somewhere else. He and his three-person team are cooling their heels in the tent—well, actually, sweating a lot since the air conditioning doesn’t work, just like the wi-fi and the promised catering. Wiki says is the lowest-grossing Tom Hanks film since 1986, and I can see why. It is enjoyable, and I know I’ll forget all about it in a few weeks.

Must say something about Saudi Arabia. To be blunt, I hate them. Hate the House of Saud, anyway, though it’s difficult to imagine that anyone else who took over there would be much better, and they might be a lot worse, like ISIS. That a barbaric culture like that can exist in the 21st century is just astonishing to me. Women can’t drive! They behead people in the public square! A man can divorce one of his four wives by saying “I divorce you” three times and throwing her out in the street. I could go on and on. But these Arab states literally have more money than they know what to do with. Huge developments and gigantic buildings are going up all over Saudi, Dubai, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi, and no one needs them. Many are virtually empty … and they don’t care. They look pretty, and prosperous! The tallest structure ever built by humans is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and guess what? A taller one, the Jeddah Tower, is under construction in Saudi. It will be … wait for it … one kilometer high! They were going to make it one mile high, but the ground wasn’t suitable. So crazy places like the one we see in this movie are all over the Arabian Peninsula, with even more building.