Groups submitting statements of qualification include the local Al-Jaber Group; Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company; Saudi Oger with Astaldi and Salini Costruttori, both Italian; Austria’s Strabag with the local Saif bin Darwish; and Italy’s Rizzani de Eccher.

The contract is for a 25-year concession to design, build, finance and operate the Mafraq-Ghweifat highway as a public-private partnership with the Abu Dhabi government.

The highway will cross the Western Region of the emirate and will link Mafraq, near Abu Dhabi island, with Ghweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia. Construction costs are estimated to be about $2.5bn, but no tolls are expected to be introduced on the road.

The scheme has been divided into four sections. Preliminary designs for the rehabilitation and widening of sections one, three and four are under way. The successful bidder will be responsible for the detailed design, construction, maintenance and operation of these sections.

Detailed designs for section two, which involves a 54km-long bypass around Ruwais and 20km of road rehabilitation, are being finalised.

UK-based Mott MacDonald is the project manager and has carried out the feasibility study.