Fact Check

Trump Touches Glowing Orb in Saudi Arabia?

The real significance of a photograph of President Trump and Saudi leaders touching a glowing orb was lost on Internet jokesters.

Published May 22, 2017

A photograph shows President Trump and Saudi leaders touching a glowing orb.

An image showing President Trump and Saudi leaders touching what appeared to be a glowing orb went viral in May 2017, as social media users shared it alongside messages poking fun at the situation.

Some joked that the photograph showed Trump taking part of some type of Illuminati ritual:

Others joked that it showed President Trump peering into the palantír, a fictional artifact from The Lord of the Rings:

The actual context of this image was lost on many. It shows President Trump, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi at the inauguration of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh. Part of the ceremony involved Trump and these Saudi leaders touching a globe in order to "activate" the center, the Saudi Gazette reported:

Trump and the King each placed their hands on a miniature globe that officially activated the center and launched a splashy welcome video.

The center counters and prevents the spread of extremist ideology by promoting moderation, compassion and supporting the dissemination of positive dialogue.

The Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology posted a video of Trump's visit to YouTube. The viral moment can be glimpsed starting at the 17:30 mark of the following video:


The image showing President Trump and various Saudi Leaders touching a glowing globe is real. To our knowledge, however, this orb was not magical, was not being used to control the eye of Sauron, and was not the centerpiece of an Illuminati ritual.


Reiss, Jaclyn.   "What was that white orb Trump was touching?"     The Boston Globe.   22 May 2017.

Calamur, Krishnadev.   "So, What Was the Deal With the Orb?"     The Atlantic.   22 May 2017.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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