‘We received a good response from local and international companies and will now begin the evaluation process,’ says a source close to the project. Under the proposed schedule, a tender is due to be issued in early July with proposals expected to be submitted by late August. The client plans to sign a contract by mid-October.

Firms will be invited to submit proposals for a 10-year concession to run five duty -free shops at international departure lounges in Jeddah (two), Riyadh (two) and Dammam (one). The contract will cover the financing, building and fitting out of the shops, and the operations of warehouses close to the shops and landside duty-free bonded warehouses. The UK’s Concession Planning International is the consultant.

Last year, the kingdom saw about 12.5 million passengers, excluding Hajj traffic, travel through its international airports. Duty-free shopping is among airports’ main source of income. Neighbouring Dubai, the world’s third largest airport duty-free retailer, recorded annual retail sales of over AED 2,100 million ($590 million) in 2005.