Abu Dhabi has awarded the main construction contract to build the long-delayed Louvre Abu Dhabi museum on Saadiyat Island to a joint venture of the local Arabtec, Spain’s Constructora San Jose and Oger Abu Dhabi.

The consortium will begin construction work immediately, with the concrete frame of the museum scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2014. Work on the geometric lace dome will be completed by the end of 2014, with the final stage of the project set for completion in 2015. The main package, valued at AED2.4bn ($653m), will involve the concrete structure and superstructure works, structural steel works, cladding and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) works.

The museum will have a total built-up area of 64,000 square metres.

The winning consortium saw off competition from the other two shortlisted firms, the local/Belgian Six Construct Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia’s El-Seif Engineering & Contracting. The client had shortlisted the three groups in early December after contractors had submitted prices in mid-November.

The landmark project, which is one of the most high-profile projects planned for Abu Dhabi, has been tendered three times since it was first launched in 2007 as part of a wide-ranging cultural accord signed by Abu Dhabi and France. It was first tendered in 2009 as a design and build scheme, and then tendered again in 2010 as a traditional construction contract. That tender was cancelled after TDIC shortlisted two contractors in early 2011.

The two contractors, the joint venture of the local/Australian Al-Habtoor Leighton Group and South Africa’s Murray & Roberts Contractors (Middle East) and Canada’s Brookfield Multiplex did not prequalify for the most recent tender. Regional contractors hope the contract will be awarded this time after the Abu Dhabi Executive Council approved the museum’s planned expenditure in January.

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is part of the capital’s 18-square-kilometre Saadiyat Island Cultural District. Piling work on the Louvre project has been completed by Germany’s Bauer.