Tenders for the excavation are due this month with an award expected over the summer. The client is in the process of selecting a shortlist for the tender and up to 14 companies are understood to have prequalified.

Because of the scale of the project, it is expected to be split into eight or nine separate packages. Four will be handled by local developer Limitless, up to three will be managed by Nakheel in the Dubai Waterfront Area, with the other two sections being excavated by Dubai Industrial City and the Roads & Transport Authority.

Limitless will be responsible for co-ordination between the different developers and the ultimate delivery of the canal.

The excavation works are expected to take three years, and will involve moving about 1 billion cubic metres of material, at a rate of 1 million cubic metres a day.

Australia’s Gulf Leighton, in a joint venture with Van Oord of the Netherlands, is working on a trial section of the canal that is located at the northern end of the inland section of the waterway.

South Korea’s Samsung Corporation is working on another trial section, also in Limitless’ inland area.

Contracts for the project’s associated works, such as marinas and access roads, will be awarded separately at a later date.