Saudi Arabia’s Defence Ministry has extended the bid deadline for contractors to submit prices to build the first phase of its planned Military Medical City on the outskirts of Riyadh.

The ministry has set a new bid deadline of 11 May for the construction contract. Bids were originally due in mid-March. The first phase of the hospital will contain 1,500 beds, as well as laboratories, warehouses and administrative buildings. The construction contract will include providing infrastructure and utilities.

The hospital will contain 3,500 beds when completed. The medical city will be built on the Riyadh Airport highway, and will be located near Princess Noura University.

As one of several medical cities the Saudi government is planning, the project is part of an expansion of healthcare infrastructure to cope with rapid population growth.

In December, contractors submitted bids for the contract to build the King Abdullah Medical City project. Located 28 kilometres from Mecca and 56km from Jeddah, the development will include hospital buildings, research centres, administration buildings and a housing community, with a total built-up area of nearly 1 million square metres.

The local Al-Rashid Trading & Contracting Company submitted the lowest bid of SR6.5bn ($1.7bn), which was 3.1 per cent lower than the SR6.7bn price submitted by Saudi Binladin Group (SBG), the second-lowest bidder. A consortium of the local Al-Bawani Company and Spain’s FCC Construccion submitted the third-lowest price of SR6.9bn.