A Hologram for the King
A vague and unclear image has surrounded one of the biggest economic projects in the 21st century. King Abdullah Economic City has created an impression among many that this tremendous city project failed to achieve its objectives, and that all which has been said before at the launch of the project was just a mirage and a dream that cannot be realized.
The American writer and novelist Dave Eggers has published a new book this year titled “A Hologram for the King.” Dave Eggers is the bestselling author of seven books and the winner of the American Book Award and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He is also the cofounder of a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for the youth.
The book grabbed the attention of the literary world with its focus on the sweeping changes of the newly globalized economy. Through the eyes of his American businessman, Eggers strive to depict the journey of his main character to this developing Red Sea Port near Jeddah to pitch his hologram presentation to the King and win an IT contract. During the sequence of events we come to know more on how the outside world views the volatile relationship between the East and the West. Driven by the desire to learn more on this mystifying economic city, I found myself attracted to another writer who decided to look deeper into the same matter. The young prominent Saudi businessman and writer Essam Al-Zamil has conducted a recent visit to the King Abdullah Economic City.
What he saw and learned about the city of the signed contracts exceeded his expectations and violates the impression that this project will not succeed. The signing of more than 50 companies to build factories in the city, most notably Mars Inc. which is one of the largest producers of chocolate in the world and Pfizer the largest pharmaceutical company and other international companies, may be the driving force to move the wheel and start the revival of the city by creating jobs and attracting population.
The dream of creating an economic city wholly owned by the private sector is getting closer to becoming a reality. A city with its own laws and legislations directed solely to private investment to bypass all hindering bureaucratic red tape, making it more flexible and dynamic.
The unique model upon which the city is established makes it still favorable to be successful. The triumph of the city would mean adding real value to the Saudi economy, attracting more industrial investments from foreign companies, thus providing more jobs and prosperity to the country.
A tweet: “What struck me more than anything was how quickly it’s changing. The youth of Saudi are insisting on change and optimistic about where things are headed.”
— Dave Eggers
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