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The US-Saudi Economic Relationship: More than Arms and Oil
David Kenner and Kameal Al-Ahmad


This paper provides an overview of the US-Saudi economic relationship, excluding oil and arms sales. It begins by describing the growth of US exports to Saudi Arabia and the influx of Saudi students to the United States, and their impact on the US economy. It goes on to discuss US businesses’ investment in Saudi Arabia and their participation in new economic sectors opened by the Vision 2030 reforms. And it concludes with an examination of Saudi investments in the United States through a variety of privately and publicly owned institutions.

The paper’s authors reach the conclusion that the economic relationship between the two countries is more complex than it is commonly portrayed. Though energy and security issues dominate discussion about the US-Saudi alliance, trade and investment flows between the two countries have steadily grown in size and diversity in recent years. These ties will likely grow further in the coming years given the extensive involvement of US firms in Saudi Arabia’s emerging entertainment and sports sectors, as well as the construction of its giga-projects. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the United States has also grown: Its wealth has been used to purchase US debt and finance a wide range of American businesses.

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