The desalination element covers a 30-year design-build-own-operate contract for two seawater desalination plants on the main crescent of the multi-billion-dollar Waterfront development, which will have residential and commercial elements.

Each plant will have a desalination capacity of 55,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) and will use reverse osmosis technology.

Three firms are understood to have been shortlisted by Nakheel for final talks over the contract: Spain’s Acciona, Norway’s Aqualyng and the local Metito.

Three other groups are understood to have been shortlisted for the wastewater treatment contract, Malaysia’s Malakoff Berhad with the US’ GE Infrastructure, Japan’s Hitachi with YTL of Malaysia, and Metito with Germany’s Berlinwasser.

This contract will be agreed on a similar basis to the concession for the desalination plants and will cover a sewage treatment plant with a capacity of about 220,000 cm/d.

On both concessions, the successful developers are expected to make a return on their investment by selling the drinking or treated water directly to the end user.

The Waterfront is the world’s largest waterfront development and will be capable of housing more than 1.5 million people when it is completed by 2020.