The shortlisted companies are: a joint venture between France’s Intrafor (Bouygues) and the local Soltravo and Tabet Enterprises;Germany’s Bauer; and the local Edrafor. The client is the local/Saudi developer Societe Mediterranee des Grands Hotels (SMGH).

The enabling contractor is required to create a 23-metre-deep, 4,500-square-metre dry pit that will house the hotel’s five basement levels. The 12-14-month contract also involves demolition and removal of the 2.5-3-metre-thick concrete basement slab of the former Hilton Hotel.

The enabling package was originally due to be awarded by the beginning of March, but uncertainty surrounding the Iraq war means the award is now expected by mid-April. The substructure and superstructure package is expected to go to tender towards the end of the enabling package. The local Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners) is project architect and engineer and the local division of UK cost consultant Davis Langdonis project manager.

The hotel is expected to be about 20 storeys high but the final design cannot be agreed until SMGH has found an operator. SMGH is currently talking to four hotel chains – Sheraton, Fairmont Hotel Management and Hyatt International, all of the US,and the UAE’s Jumeirah International – about the contract to operate the 425-450 room hotel. SMGH now hopes to select one in April.