I’ve only even seen one other movie set in Saudi Arabia and it’s called “The Kingdom”. I don’t recommend it to anyone who is thinking about moving here though because it will make you really paranoid. I had dreams (nightmares) about terrorist attacks after that one.
A Hologram for the King is a romance/comedy that doesn’t feed my paranoia. The cinematography is great and it shows the lighter side of this country. I was also really interested because it’s set in Jeddah and talks about King’s Metropolis of Economy and Trade which is really King Abdullah Economic City. Just like in the movie, all you see when you enter is mostly desert and signs that show what and where the new buildings or developments will be. I think the movie got a lot of details right, like Friday and Saturday being weekends, non-Muslims not being allowed into the holy city of Mecca, blurred women’s faces on any sort of advertisement. I’ve even experienced getting into a piece of junk car driven by an overly-optimistic driver, not knowing if we would even make it to our destination. I chuckled when Tom Hanks asked if there were worker unions and the Saudi guy says, “We don’t have unions, we have Filipinos”. I wasn’t really sure what that was supposed to mean but man, there are so many Filipinos here that it’s virtually impossible go to the mall, a restaurant or beauty salon without bumping into or being served by a Filipino.
There were some parts of the movie that made me curious because I’d never seen/heard of them before. First, the love story between Tom Hank’s character and a Saudi woman. I honestly have NEVER seen or heard of a Saudi woman (especially in Saudi Arabia) dating a foreigner. And sleeping together before marriage? I just can’t imagine hehe. Another curious thing was the wild embassy party. Do they really turn into wild sexy night clubs when they throw parties? I’ve been to the Taiwan Embassy parties and let me tell you they are definitely not like in the movie.
Overall it was an interesting feel-good movie. It’s not that thought-provoking and there were some holes in the story but I recommend it to anyone who is moving here or just interested in Saudi culture.