Boeing components to be built in Al Ain

Boeing will build major sections for its 777 and 787 airliners in Abu Dhabi, and Virgin Galactic said it has begun a search for a new space port in the Emirate.

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ABU DHABI // Major components of the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner passenger jets are to be built in Al Ain.

And if even 30,000ft isn't high enough for Abu Dhabi's lofty ambitions, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has chosen the emirate as the site for its second spaceport.

"I look forward to the day when Virgin Galactic spaceships can be seen above this vibrant and forward-looking city," Virgin Galactic's chief executive George Whitesides, a former chief of staff at Nasa, said yesterday.

But it was the $1 billion deal between Mubadala Aerospace and Boeing that dominated the final day of the inaugural Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Mubadala's Strata Manufacturing plant in Al Ain will initially manufacture ribs for the main hull of the Boeing 777 and the vertical tailplane of the 787 Dreamliner. Full tailfin manufacture will follow once the plant and workforce have been brought on line. It is Boeing's first supply deal in the Arab world.

Strata began operations in 2010. It already produces parts for Boeing rival Airbus's A330 and A340.

"This is an important milestone for Strata," said Homaid Al Shemmari, Mubadala Aerospace's executive director. "It is testament to how far Strata has come as a company in the short 18 months it has been operational. Mubadala Aerospace is developing a world-class - and, crucially, sustainable - aerospace industry in the UAE."

Etihad Airways has orders for 41 of Boeing's new carbon-fibre 787 Dreamliner, more than any other airline. Emirates is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 777.

"The UAE is one of Boeing's most important commercial and defence customers," Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Jim Albaugh said.