The construction of the 80-kilometre-long waterway will be split into a series of design and build packages, although the client may award multiple contracts to one contractor or consortium.

“Limitless has invited several international contractors to submit proposals for the Arabian Canal project,” says a spokesman for the firm.

“It is currently considering expressions of interest from about a dozen contractors.”

The canal will enter the Arabian Gulf at two points: one south-west of Palm Jebel Ali, as part of the Dubai Waterfront project, and the second south-west of the Dubai Marina.

Limitless will develop 200 square kilometres of land around the canal to the south-east of the Dubai World Central airport. The canal will also pass through the Dubai Waterfront and Discovery Gardens developments planned by Nakheel, Dubai Industrial City, the Jebel Ali Business Park planned by Emaar Properties, and the Jumeirah Golf Estates development planned by Istithmar Leisure. The canal will be constructed at sea level for its entire length to allow yachts to sail along it.

Construction of the canal is expected to take three years, from December 2007 until the end of 2010.

The client estimates the excavation will require the removal of about 1,000 million cubic metres of material. This will be used for landfill and landscaping on adjacent developments.

An added complication for contractors will be negotiating existing infrastructure and services in the area.

It will cross major highways at five different locations, as well as the Dubai metro, underground gas and fuel pipelines and overhead power lines (MEED 22:6:07).