The contract, which was signed on 20 May, will take effect from 1 September 2008 and is worth $61m.

Under the seven-year-long public-private-partnership (PPP), Suez will upgrade and modernise Jeddah’s water and wastewater services.

Some of the objectives of the project include ensuring continuous access to drinking water in the 5,300-kilometre long network, cutting emergency response times to repair leaks to one-third of current times and preventing overflows in the 1,000-kilometre-long wastewater collection network.

With 3 million residents, Jeddah’s population is growing at a rate of 2.7 per cent a year. Desalination plants provide 98 per cent of the city’s water.

The Jeddah contract is the second water management PPP to be awarded in the kingdom. France’s Veolia won the management contract for water and wastewater networks in Riyadh.