UAE-based developer RAK Properties has invited selected companies to express interest in a AED2.5bn ($681m) contract to build a series of apartment buildings, making it the largest construction contract ever to be contested in Ras al-Khaimah.

The launch of the project comes just a month after the previous record was set in the emirate, when a AED1bn contract was awarded to the local Construction Technology Contracting (CTC).

The latest contract planned by RAK Properties is due to last for two years and will involve the construction of 28 apartment buildings, ranging from three to 20 storeys in height, at its Mina al-Arab development.

In total, it will involve 1,800 apartment units, with a total built-up area of about 325,000 square metres.

The contract will be structured as a fixed-price, lump-sum agreement. Dubai-based Zone Architects is the consultant.

The contract will be split into three packages, which could be awarded to separate companies or to a single successful bidder.

A tender was originally expected to be issued in mid-September but the client has delayed this in an effort to attract more interest from potential bidders.

RAK Properties is one of two major master developers in Ras al-Khaimah.

The other, Rakeen Development, is also working on projects across the emirate, including developments on Al-Marjan island and the Gateway City off Emirates road.

Al-Marjan was the location for the previous largest deal awarded in the emirate, the AED1bn construction contract to build the Pacific development planned by a joint venture of Dubai-based Select Group and UK-based Select Property.

CTC won the contract in August to construct six residential buildings over an area of 25,300 sq m, each named after a Pacific island. Completion is scheduled for 2011 (MEED 21:8:08).

RAK Properties, which is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, also recently received bids for a contract to build 500 villas at Mina al-Arab. The consultant is Australia’s Woods Bagot (MEED 30:6:08).

The local Darwish Engineering is already working on the AED340m infrastructure works on the project.

The contract includes the construction of roads and bridges, wastewater treatment and collection, drainage, and the installation of cables.

China Harbour Engineering Company was awarded the marine works contract in 2005.

The overall AED20bn Mina al-Arab project involves the construction of more than 600 villas, as well as apartment buildings, hotels and other urban amenities on the Gulf coast to the south of Ras al-Khaimah city.