McMaster, Graham, Saudi Arabian officials join Boeing for celebration
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Boeing South Carolina hosted state elected officials and officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at a celebration of the purchase of 121 of the manufacturer’s Dreamliner planes.
Officials from Riyadh Air and SAUDIA Airlines also attended the event. The purchase of the Dreamliners, which was announced back in March, marked the fifth-largest commercial order in Boeing’s history.
“This is a big deal,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told Boeing employees. “How do you get to Saudi Arabia? On an airplane, unless you live pretty close by. They chose you.”
Gov. Henry McMaster praised Graham, whom he said played an integral role in the Boeing announcement.
“These are great counties, these are great companies, these are great planes, and you are great people,” McMaster said.
The purchase comes and Saudia Arabia looks to become a global aviation hub as the country works toward its goal of serving 330 million passengers and attracting 100 million visitors annually by 2030.
Graham told the crowd Friday morning that when a country decides to spend a trillion dollars to opening your country up to the world, the airplane you pick matters.
“They had choices. They didn’t have to pick Boeing,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with the governor and other people talking to Saudi Arabia about why you should take Boeing. It will change your relationship of the United States and Saudi Arabia for the better. You will be seen differently in our country because you’re creating jobs in my state in our country.”
Graham said ultimately, Saudi Arabian officials didn’t buy from Boeing because he “begged them to,” but because it’s the best product they could buy.
Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, said the relationship between her country and Boeing dates back 80 years, crediting the company for helping Saudi Arabia launch itself as the powerhouse it is today.
But she said while the purchase benefits Boeing and jobs in the Lowcountry, it also benefits the people of her country.
“Let me tell you, you’re creating jobs in the kingdom. You’re creating a future for young people,” she said. “You’re helping my nation open up. You are helping us introduce myself to the world as well my nation will be eternally grateful for you giving us that opportunity. This is truly a partnership.”
In April, Graham met with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Graham said the meeting was to strengthen the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States.
“I look forward to working with the administration and congressional Republicans and Democrats to see if we can take the U.S.-Saudi relationship to the next level, which would be a tremendous economic benefit to both countries and bring much-needed stability to a troubled region,” Graham said of the meeting.
The Boeing purchase was also mentioned during the meeting.
“I also expressed deep appreciation to the Kingdom for purchasing $37 billion worth of Boeing 787s – which are made in South Carolina – for the new Saudi airline,” Graham said in April. “Investments like this are game changers.”
SAUDIA Airlines currently operates 50 Boeing airplanes in its network with a mix of 777-300ER, 787-9 and 787-10 Dreamliners.
Riyadh Air is a new carrier owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund and purchase 39 787-9s and has the option to purchase 33 additional planes.
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