Algeria’s National Agency for Design and Management of Djamaa el-Djazair (Anargema) has pushed back the deadline for formal expressions of interest in a deal to build the world’s third largest mosque.

The deadline on the estimated $3bn Djamaa el-Djazair mosque has been extended to 24 March from 23 February. The shortlisted contractors will be announced and be eligible to submit technical and commercial proposals by the end of the month.

It remains unclear why Anargema has chosen to extend the deadline after receiving applications from 56 local and international companies in time for the original deadline.

One Algiers-based advisor with knowledge of the project says that it is because the government will be unable to start construction in the second quarter of the year as it had previously announced. Experts have repeatedly said that there are problems with the geography of the site. Anargema declined to comment on the reasons behind the delay.

Djamaa el-Djazair will have a capacity of almost 40,000 people and will be the world’s third largest mosque after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The finished project will include a 21,000 square-metre prayer room, a 21,000 sq m courtyard, a 42,000 sq m esplanade and a 214-metre minaret.

Djamaa el-Djazair will also include a two-building culture centre made up of a 16,000 sq m auditorium and a 21,800 sq m library. A 300-student graduate school and a 180,000 sq m car park complete the development.    

A consortium of German design consultants Krebs und Kiefer and KSP Engel und Zimmerman won a competition for the design of the development in 2008. Both companies declined to comment on the status of the project.