Prequalified companies have until the end of January to bid for the two-year $15m feasibility study and environmental assessment, according to Raed Abu Saud, Jordan’s Water and Irrigation Minister.

Six companies from Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the US have prequalified for the feasibility study.

Five other businesses from Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and the US have prequalified to carry out the environmental assessment.

Saud says the winners would start work on both contracts in early March.

The World Bank is financing the project to build a 220km canal linking Aqaba on the coast of the Red Sea to the landlocked Dead Sea.

The main goal of the project is to prevent the Dead Sea from drying up.