A consortium of five Aecom subsidiaries is expected to complete the work by September. The group will study the economics and sustainability of the 5,000-home community, the design and architecture of the project, and lay out plans for the infrastructure and engineering.

Aecom was selected by Bayti Real Estate Development Company, a subsidiary of Massar International, the Palestinian group which launched and is managing the project.

The Qatari real estate group Qatari Diar is also investing in Rawabi.

Bashar Masri, chairman of both Massar and Bayti, says he hopes work on the $150m first phase of construction can get underway by the end of the year.

Bayti has also reached agreement with the Palestinian government to have Rawabi designated as an independent municipality. Negotiations with Israel are ongoing over an access road to the nearby city of Ramallah.