Saudi Arabia and Boeing strike massive deal for passenger planes

Saudi Arabia says its two airlines plan to order a total of up to 121 Boeing passenger airplanes. Observers say the massive purchase order is aimed at showing the closeness of the country's ties with the United States, its ally.

The deals involve state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines and newly launched airline Riyadh Air, which is owned by a government-affiliated fund.

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday the two airlines will buy up to 121 Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplanes, including options for additional aircraft.

Saudi Arabia has been trying to move away from its reliance on oil. The country began issuing tourist visas in 2019. It also disclosed a plan to build a hub airport in the capital Riyadh to meet rising aviation demand.

The deals would be worth 37 billion dollars without the options.

The US government welcomed the deals in a statement, saying they will "support over one million American jobs." It added the US will continue to support the Middle East, "which ultimately benefits the American people."

In diplomacy, Saudi Arabia has been seen getting closer to China, and last week agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Iran in a deal mediated by China. Riyadh and Tehran cut diplomatic ties in 2016.