Mecca Municipality has delayed appointing transaction advisers for the development of a rail project in the area while it seeks further clarifications from the bidders.

The municipality, acting though its development arm Al-Balad Alameen, had been due to appoint advisers by the 20 February, but has now put that back by a further two weeks while it holds meetings with the bidders. “Al-Balad Alameen said the bids were all good and it was too difficult to differentiate them, so is holding further meetings to help clarify which is the most attractive consortium,” says one source close to the project.

Five groups submitted bids to act as advisers on the project, they were:

  • Ernst & Young, Ashurst
  • Global Investment House, Deutsche Bank, Trowers & Hamlins
  • KPMG, White & Case
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, Pinsent Masons
  • Joatha Consulting, Mobsby Associates

Clarification meetings are scheduled to take place from mid-late February.

The Mecca Mass Rail Transit (MMRT) project will consist of four lines and will run for about 113 kilometres around Mecca city centre with about 24 stations. The first line will be about 12km and will run from Jamarat station in the east, around the Grand Mosque to the station where the Haramain high-speed line will start in the west.

The railway is part of Mecca’s plans to develop transport infrastructure to help Muslims on pilgrimage travel around the city. According to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, more than 2.5 million pilgrims performed the Hajj in 2009 and a total of 3.3 million religious tourists entered the kingdom that year.