The nine prospective bidders are predominantly regional, with the exception of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Port Holdings, International Container Terminal Services (ICTS) of the Philippines and Malaysia’s Johor Port. Other prospective bidders include Dubai Ports International (DPI)– the overseas arm of state-owned Dubai Ports Authority (DPA)– OPM, the UAE’s Gulftainer and operators from Lebanon, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The decision to issue the RFP to all those expressing interest has provoked some criticism, both from those advising on the selection process and companies interested in bidding the contract.

The concession agreement will initially take the form of an equip-operate-transfer contract, and may be converted to a build-operate-transfer (BOT) structure if an anticipated expansion is implemented. The term of the concession will be 30-35 years, and will also cover the neighbouring Ma’alla Container Terminal.