Politics

What was that white orb Trump was touching?

In this Sunday, May 21, 2017 photo released by the Saudi Press Agency, from left to right, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Saudi King Salman, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump, visit a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)
Saudi Press Agency via AP
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Saudi King Salman, and President Donald Trump touched a glowing white orb in Saudi Arabia.

It was the moment that sparked a mass of memes.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia this weekend, President Donald Trump placed his hands on a glowing white orb beside two other world leaders, sparking jokes, memes, and sci-fi comparisons among some Twitter users.

The moment came Sunday, when Trump — along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Saudi King Salman — walked along a (quite large) red carpet to enter a dark, circular room as dozens of people followed them.

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With the lights dimmed and a techno beat blaring in the background, the three leaders sidled up to the orb before touching it for about a minute as videos played on several large screen TVs.

So what exactly was this orb, and why were three powerful leaders touching it for so long?

Despite the jokes online, the ceremony marked a serious topic. The glowing sphere, which was actually a globe, was part of the inauguration ceremony for the state-of-the-art Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Trump referenced the center in a speech he made earlier that day, calling it a “groundbreaking new center [that] represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization.”

Trump helped to inaugurate the site by placing his hands on the orb, which officially activated the center and launched a splashy welcome video, according to wire reports.

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During the ceremony, an unnamed host described the prominent collection of TV screens in the center as a dashboard of artificial intelligence information tracking online sentiments. He said the center has 350 technicians in the main room, and includes a media monitoring system that can monitor 100 TV channels in 11 different languages, according to a pool reporter.

A pool reporter said the atmosphere during the ceremony felt like a “television game show set,” as the room was lit only more about three dozen whirling blue spotlights.

The project began two years ago, before Trump took office, according to the Associated Press.

The move led to led to jokes of all kind online:

The jokes even sparked the official Twitter account of the Church of Satan to note that, no, the move was not a Satanic ritual.

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