Saudi Arabia’s Umm al-Qura for Development & Construction Company is expected to award the the estimated SR6bn ($1.6bn) contract to design and build infrastructure for the King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) development project in Mecca by the end of October.

The two shortlisted bidders are the local Huta Group and Nesma & Partners Construction.

The project is being developed along a section of the KAAR near to the Haram and the Jabal Omar development.

The infrastructure work involves buildings roads and general infrastructure for the scheme. The road works involve building 9.5 kilometres of roads, together with intersections and a main road with four lanes in each direction, and a central pedestrian boulevard linking to the Haram area.

The design and build contract also includes the tunnels and two station boxes that will be used for the upcoming Mecca Metro project. This part of the scheme was originally set to be executed by the contractors working on the metro.

The overall site will cover an area that is 3.7km long and 320 metres wide, and which will be divided into 210 individual plots for high-rise buildings that will include hotels, shops, offices and apartments.

There are also more than 3,500 existing residential and commercial properties on the site that need to be demolished to make way for the scheme. Some 500 properties have already been knocked down. The remaining properties will be demolished in phases.

The project manager is the local office of KEO International Consultants. The local ACES and the UK’s Atkins prepared designs for the project.

Umm al-Qura for Development & Construction Company is a joint stock firm formed by a royal decree in 2005 to develop, construct and operate the KAAR development project.

For the Mecca Metro, contractors submitted bids to the Mecca Municipality on 13 October for the contracts to build the first phase of the rail network. There are two contracts: one covering the underground work; the other the above-ground work.

The first phase is expected to involve the construction of two lines with a total length of 46km and 22 train stations.