Dubai-based Al-Noor Holding Investment Company says it expects to award a build-operate-transfer contract for the first phase of a bridge linking Yemen and Djibouti in the latter half of next year.

The crossing will be the first bridge to link the Arabian peninsula with the African continent. Denmark’s Cowi has drawn up a preliminary design for the 28.5-kilometre bridge.

According to Mohammed al-Ahmed, chief executive officer of Al-Noor, three companies have expressed interest in funding and building the road and rail link.

Key facts

$200bn – Total project cost of bridge and two cities

$20bn – Cost of phase 1

28.5km – Length of the bridge

Source: Al-Noor Holding Investment Company

The $20bn first phase of construction will cover the link from the Yemeni mainland to the island of Perim in the Red Sea. Phase two will connect Perim with Djibouti.

“We have parties from Russia and China that are interested in financing the project 100 per cent,” he says, although he declined to name them.

The wider project also involves building two cities, at either end of the link. The total investment required for the construction of the cities and the bridge is $200bn. Al-Ahmed says Al-Noor has already invested an undisclosed amount of its own money in the scheme and remains optimistic that finance will be available to fund the entire project.

Al-Noor has submitted a framework agreement to the governments of Yemen and Djibouti, which needs to be signed before a contract can be awarded.

Al-Ahmed says an award will happen “definitely in the second half of the year”.