Saudi Arabia to sign memorandum with Boeing to support fleet

The kingdom aims to localise 50 per cent of its military industry by 2030

Saudi Arabia will sign a non-binding agreement with Boeing Co for the US planemaker to provide support and training to the kingdom’s fleet, the chairman of the state-owned military industrial company said on Tuesday.

With Saudi Arabia intending to localise 50 per cent of its military industry by 2030, it is in discussions with US companies to scale up their operations in the kingdom.

To that end, Ahmed Al Khateeb of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) said it will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) – a document which outweighs a letter of intent but does commit either side to the agreement – with Boeing in Seattle.

“Hopefully we will be announcing other MoUs with other big American companies,” Khateeb told Reuters on the sidelines of the 2018 Saudi-US CEO Forum in New York.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading a whistle-stop visit to the United States and on Friday is scheduled to travel to the US West Coast.

At the forum, Saudi Arabia’s US embassy said the kingdom had signed 36 memorandums of understanding, totalling more than $20bn in new business partnerships.

The memorandums of understanding included a partnership between Alphabet Inc’s Google and oil giant Saudi Aramco for national cloud services, and a cooperation agreement between Aramco and Raytheon Co for national cyber security services.

Aramco has been the victim of a high-profile cyber attack in the past, with former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta describing the 2012 so-called Shamoon attack as perhaps the most destructive cyber attack on a private business.

In addition to cultivating Western ties for investments in Saudi Arabia, the trip is an opportunity for the crown prince to try to reassure investors who were unnerved by the severity and secrecy of an anti-corruption crackdown last November.

CEO’s in attendance at the forum included Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman, Ajay Banga from Mastercard and PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, according to an attendee list.