Prequalifiers have been given until late October to submit the first set of technical bids. Final commercial bids are due on 31 January. In addition to pricing the construction work and rolling stock supply, prequalifiers have been requested to submit a financing proposal of up to 12 years to cover the project costs.

The scope of works includes tunnelling, the construction of stations, depots and line facilities, electro-mechanical works and the relocation of some public utilities.

Phase 1 calls for the construction of two light transit lines over 70 kilometres, of which about 30 per cent will be underground. The two lines – one of which will follow the coast south to Emirates Hills and north to Sharjah, the other will link the city centre to Dubai International Airport – will be connected by an eight-kilometre circulator metro system in the central business district. The LRT will also involve construction of two bridges across Dubai creek. The project is expected to take up to four years to complete. The municipality intends to award the single turnkey contract in the second quarter of 2005.

Preliminary designs have been drawn up by France’s Systra, which was awarded a $12.7 million design-engineering contract in March last year.