The public-private partnership (PPP) scheme is the first of three deals, which together will cover five of the kingdom’s largest cities.

After issuing the Mecca and Taif contract, NWC will launch a further two PPPs: one for Medina and one for Dammam and Khobar.

The utility has prequalified 11 groups to bid for the contracts. They are France’s Veolia Water; Spain’s Agbar with the local Water & Environmental Services Company; France’s Saur with the local Zamil Operations & Maintenance Company; Germany’s Gelsenwasser with Saudi Services Company; and Spain’s Aqualia.

The list also includes the UK’s United Utilities with Saudi Pan Kingdom Company; UAE/German joint venture Metito Berlinwasser with Saudi Masader Company for Water & Power; Spain’s Acciona Agua with Malaysia’s YTL Power International and the UK’s Wessex Water; and Malaysia’s Ranhill Utilities with India’s Jamshedpur Utility & Services Company and the local Aamal Group.

NWC has also prequalified the local Miahona, a subsidiary of Acwa Power Development, as part of two groups. The first includes Malaysia’s Puncak Niaga and the UK’s Severn Trent Services International and can only bid for the Mecca and Taif contract.

The second group, which can bid for the Dammam and Khobar contract, includes only Miahona Severn Trent.