A joint venture between Lebanon’s Khatib & Alami and Turkey’s Istanbul Ulasim has won the consultancy services contract for a new metro in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The client for the project is the local Madinah Development Authority, which tendered for consultants capable of completing a study for the urban metro system and to develop 30 per cent of the final design for the first line of the metro that will link the airport to the Prophet’s mosque.

The full scope of works includes preparing a feasibility study, the architectural design, the static and electro-mechanical works, as well as preparing the tender documents for the construction and consultancy for the first metro line.

Early estimates suggest the project will cost at least $1bn to construct.

The metro is being developed to help ease congestion in the holy city during the pilgrimage season. Each year, millions of hajj and umrah pilgrims come to Medina to visit the mosque. By 2040, the number of umrah and hajj visitors is predicted to reach 8.6 million and 3.6 million respectively every year.

Medina itself is getting increasingly busy with the population of the city and surrounding suburbs expected to grow from its current 1.1 million to 2.6 million people by 2040.

Saudi Arabia has already heavily invested in transport projects designed to tackle pilgrimage traffic. The Haramain high-speed rail connection between Medina and Mecca is currently under construction.  A mass transit system in the holy city of Mecca is also planned.   

Other metro projects being developed in Saudi Arabia include Riyadh metro and Jeddah metro. Riyadh is at a more advanced stage, with construction contract bids currently under evaluation.

Jeddah metro is at an early stage with the newly-formed Jeddah Metro Company looking at plans to develop the project.