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Saudi Arabia to buy 121 Boeing-787s in ‘historic’ $37 billion deal

The agreements make up the fifth-largest commercial order by value in Boeing’s history and is valued at nearly $37 billion. 
The exterior of a 787 Dreamliner at the Boeing manufacturing facility in North Charleston, on December 13, 2022. - Betting on robust demand for international travel, United Airlines on Tuesday unveiled an order of 100 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners with options for an additional 100 jets. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

DUBAI — Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday two agreements to purchase up to 121 Boeing-787s known as Dreamliners to be used in part by the kingdom’s newly announced second national airline, Riyadh Air.

The White House hailed the deal as "historic." "This partnership is another milestone in eight decades of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and American industry. Our administration looks forward to working with Saudi Arabia and all partners in the Middle East to support a more prosperous, secure and integrated region, which ultimately benefits the American people," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. 

The combined agreements make up the fifth-largest commercial order by value in Boeing’s history and are valued at nearly $37 billion, according to a statement released by the Saudi Embassy in Washington. 

“The enduring strategic partnership between both countries is enhanced by a common vision to expand cooperation into different fields, like transportation, which opens up many opportunities for both countries,” said Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.

In a statement responding to the deals' announcement, Jean-Pierre said the two deals were finalized between Saudi Arabia and the American manufacturer after intense negotiations and years of discussion.

Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina the home of the 787 Dreamliner, said the deal was great news for his state and highlighted his role in the negotiations via his Twitter account. 

“I worked very closely with Boeing, the South Carolina delegation, Saudi Arabia and the administration to overcome the obstacles to make this deal possible,” he tweeted on Tuesday. 

He also commended the Biden administration for doing a "terrific job" and being instrumental in making the deal happen.

The White House said the two agreements are expected to support over 1 million US jobs in the aerospace supply chain across 44 states. 

This will be an addition to recent deals with the kingdom that have already supported more than 140,000 jobs in the country, with many filled by people without a four-year college degree. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported that the state-owned Jeddah-based airline, Saudia, and the new national airline, Riyadh Air, were expected to buy a total of 78 Dreamliners split between the two buyers, with the option to buy another 43 each. 

This deal comes two days after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced its new national carrier, Riyadh Air, on Sunday, which is expected to serve as a hub between Africa, Europe and Asia, and connect to over 100 global destinations by 2030.

The PIF — full owners of the airline — stated that the goal of this airline over the years is to improve travelers' connections to Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions, create more than 200,000 jobs and add $20 billion to non-oil gross domestic product.

The sovereign wealth fund subsidiary is meant to serve as “a catalyst for the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by increasing air transport options, raising cargo capacity and, in turn, growing international passenger traffic,” according to the PIF’s announcement on Sunday.

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