Study Guide

Karim al-Ahmad in A Hologram for the King

By Dave Eggers

Karim al-Ahmad

Karim is the inaccessible liaison at KAEC. And this guy is also the character who gets the benefit of some of Eggers' most scathing (and hilarious) description:

He was young and handsome and overpolished, as if sculpted from chrome and glass. His teeth were blinding, his skin had no pores. Too look as he did, so crisp and well-groomed, and to speak as he did, with that posh English accent, made it difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt. They modeled movie villains on men like this. (XXIV.42.208)

Dang. Stay away from Karim al-Ahmad: this guy is sinister.

It's clear that Karim's job is to obfuscate on behalf of King Abdullah, to keep Reliant on the hop for as long as possible, even though he knows that there are back room dealings happening on the IT contract.

But it isn't clear to Alan, who's the kind of plain-dealing American that often becomes the butt of jokes abroad in literature and life. He almost immediately buys into Karim's assurance that "[…] no vendor is more important to us than Reliant"—partially because Karim follows up by letting him pilot an expensive yacht by the Red Sea (XXIV.45.208).

Poor Alan never learns. By the end of the work, double-cross achieved, Alan's still relying on Karim's word to salvage something from the loss of the IT contract. Tell us: did you really feel sincerity in Karim's offer of "help" at the end of the work?

Neither did we.

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