Eight groups are bidding for the first phase of excavation work on the 80-kilometre-long Arabian Canal in Dubai planned by local developer Limitless.

The contract, which covers an area inland from Jumeirah Golf Estates next to Emirates road, is worth AED10bn ($2.7bn).

The bidders include the local Al-Shafar Transport Company, Australia’s Gulf Leighton in a joint venture with Netherlands-based Van Oord, Belgium’s Jan De Nul, Australia’s Minesite, the local Tristar Transport & Contracting, and Iran’s Mobin.

Several Asian groups are also bidding, including South Korea’s Samsung Corporation with Abu Dhabi-based Al-Jaber Group, China Harbour Engineering Company, and Sino Hydro, which is also Chinese.

“We will make a decision once the evaluation process is completed,” says Saeed Ahmed Saeed, chief executive officer of Limitless.

The package is the first major contract to be tendered on the $11bn project, which is expected to take three years to complete.

It involves moving about 1 billion cubic metres of material at a rate of 1 million cubic metres a day. The material will be used to landscape areas neighbouring the canal to create land for village developments.

It is understood that the bidders have proposed a variety of solutions for the project, with some using traditional excavation techniques and others relying on methods more commonly used in open-cast mining, such as blasting with explosives.

Contracts have previously been awarded to Samsung and the Gulf Leighton-Van Oord group for trial sections of the canal, at the northern end of the inland section of the waterway.

UK-based Faithful & Gould has been appointed by Limitless to provide cost-management services for the canal and the $50bn real estate development planned for the area inland of Jebel Ali International Airport.

The canal excavation work will be split into nine packages. Limitless will handle four packages and Nakheel three, in the Dubai Waterfront and Jumeirah Golf Estates areas, while Dubai Industrial City and the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) will excavate the other two sections.

A joint venture of UK-based Halcrow and US-based Parsons International is the preferred bidder for the consultancy contract to design the diversion of roads and services to make way for the canal, in the area between Emirates road and the Gulf.

This will involve constructing pedestrian crossings for Sheikh Zayed and Emirates roads, which are expected to be bridges, and the diversion of utilities.

Limitless will be responsible for building bridges across the canal further inland.

Halcrow and Parsons are also working for the RTA on a similar project that will elevate Sheikh Zayed road over the extension of Dubai Creek that will cut through Business Bay and Al-Safa before re-entering the Gulf.