Boeing boosting ties with Saudi Arabia

Marc Allen, president of Boeing International. (AN photo)
Updated 15 March 2017
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Boeing boosting ties with Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Boeing Co. has pledged to strengthen its partnerships with the Kingdom to build local capabilities within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.
The US aerospace giant — which supplies commercial aircraft and defense equipment to Saudi government agencies and aviation companies — said it is going ahead with the establishment of the Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company (SRSC), to be inaugurated later this year.
The pledge was made by Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, in a special interview with Arab News in Riyadh on Monday.
Allen spoke about the growing relations between the Kingdom and Boeing, training of Saudi personnel, new orders for commercial planes and defense equipment. He also touched upon the growth of commercial aviation in the region with a special reference to the partnership of Boeing with local industries, educational institutions and ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Asked about Boeing’s partnership with the Kingdom, Allen said that Boeing signed an agreement with Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) and Al-Salam Aerospace Industries (AEI) to establish the SRSC in Saudi Arabia two years ago. The joint venture, once functional, will boost the capabilities of the Kingdom in commercial and defense rotorcraft sectors. It will have locations in Riyadh and Jeddah providing comprehensive maintenance and overhaul support for Saudi Arabia’s diverse rotorcraft fleet.
He said: “Boeing management is very excited about it, and the SRSC builds on our decades-long partnership with the country.”
When it is fully operational, the Saudi stakeholders will have a national asset that affordably enhances the readiness of their rotorcraft personnel and fleet.
“This collaboration brings together the expertise of world-class companies to further strengthen the local industry in the Kingdom,” said Allen, while referring to Boeing’s support in performance-based logistics, data analysis and service to the platforms that will eventually unleash elements to build capability and efficiency.
“By engaging the Saudi industry, we are developing new business opportunities that foster broader capabilities in Saudi Arabia,” he added. Allen reiterated that “there is a big commitment on the defense side, and there is a long-standing relationship on the commercial side.”
He said that the market is growing in the Middle East region in general and the Gulf in particular. “I start with the global level, then come to the regional level. There has been a lot of spending in defense,” said the Boeing executive.
To this end, he noted: “Boeing is proud of delivering the F-15SA, the world’s most advanced F15 fighter to Saudi Arabia early this year.”
Referring to the training of Saudi personnel and Boeing’s partnership with Saudi academic institutions, he said that “the company has started research consortiums with universities like King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).”
Boeing is a member of the KAUST Industrial Collaboration Program, which aims to facilitate local and industrial partnerships with academics and students on research and development initiatives. This is in addition to Boeing’s Saudi Emerging Leaders Program and KSA College Graduate Program, launched and implemented by the US company for training Saudis. Also, Boeing is a co-founding member of Al-Faisal University.
Asked about Boeing’s plan to cooperate with the Kingdom within the framework of the Vision 2030 reform plan, Allen said that “we are committed to the next generation of partnerships that meet the goals of Vision 2030.”
“We are very excited about that opportunity,” added the Boeing executive, while saying that “the commercial aviation growth is about 5.5 percent during the last year globally. That is a very strong growth rate when you think about broad global economic progress.”
“And that is an important part of the story of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) development too, and Saudi Arabia’s development as well,” he said.
On CSR initiatives in which Boeing is involved regionally and globally, Allen said that “the company is working to focus on the next generation and motivate them for the aerospace industry, that is very important to us, we are playing a major role in that.”
In fact, Boeing’s GCC programs partner with organizations across the region including the Kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, there are many beneficiaries including King Salman Center for Disability Research, Hope Center for Exceptional Needs and the King Abdul Aziz Women Charity Association.


Saudi Arabia’s PIF could see big profit on Uber stake, Future Investment Initiative forum hears

Updated 1 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s PIF could see big profit on Uber stake, Future Investment Initiative forum hears

Frank Kane RIYADH: The Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, is potentially looking at a windfall profit on its investment in Uber Technologies, the American ride-hailing company, it emerged at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.
Lubna Olayan, head of the Olayan Group conglomerate, highlighted a potential doubling in the value of PIF’s stake in Uber if the San Francisco firm goes ahead with an initial public offering next year.
Speaking on a panel entitled “Can global investment inspire a collective vision of the future,” she remarked that PIF first invested $3.5 billion in Uber in 2016 when it was valued at approximately $60 billion.
“Now the forecast valuations for the IPO are around $120 billion. Congratulations,” she said to Yasir Al-Rumayyan, managing director of PIF.
Al-Rumayyan replied: “Uber is creating lots of jobs in Saudi Arabia and making life easier for drivers, customers and shareholders.”
PIF’s profit on any Uber IPO could be even bigger, because the Saudi organization is a major investor in the SoftBank Vision Fund, which is also holds a sizeable chunk of Uber shares from a later round of fundraising.
Al-Rumayyan told the forum that PIF’s holdings are on track to be valued at $400 billion by 2020, and $2 trillion by 2030. By then, he said, PIF’s portfolio would be split 50-50 between domestic and global investments. About 10 percent of PIF’s funds are currently invested outside Saudi Arabia.
Al-Rumayyan said it was not true that all of PIF’s investments went into high-tech assets, pointing to its 50 percent stake of a $40 billion infrastructure fund in partnership with US group Blackstone, and the hotel chain Accor.
In Saudi Arabia, PIF wants to broaden its investment in the economy, especially in the tourism and entertainment sectors. “We did not have these interests before and we want to enhance these sectors,” Al-Rumayyan said.