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Fri 4 Sep 2009 10:44 AM

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World's top bidders eye Guggenheim contract - paper

UK, South African, Australian construction firms also eye Abu Dhabi museum contract.

Three of the world’s biggest builders are eyeing the contract to build the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, according to a report.

UK’s Balfour Beatty, South Africa’s Murray and Roberts and Australia’s Leighton are mulling bids to bag the contract, which will be worth about AED2.75bn ($750m), The National daily reported on Thursday.

The Abu Dhabi-based newspaper added that the companies may face competition from local firms including Dubai’s Arabtec and Abu Dhabi’s National Projects and Construction.

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum will be located in the

Cultural District of Saadiyat Island

in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the 450,000-square-foot museum will house its own major modern and contemporary art collection and present special exhibitions that will include works from the Guggenheim Foundation’s extensive collection.

The museum, the largest Guggenheim in the world, will have global art, exhibitions, and education programs with particular focus on Middle Eastern contemporary art.

The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) had invited construction firms with annual sales of more than $1bn, to pre-qualify for the project contract.

According to The National, Grahame McCaig, the general manager of Dutco Balfour Beatty (the local unit of the UK builder) said that the building’s unusual design could be challenging to build.

Murray and Roberts is in discussions with the Al Habtoor Leighton Group about a possible bid, the newspaper added.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s Arabtec Construction would probably seek to get a partner on board for the project, the company’s chief executive told the daily.

The TDIC - the developer of the Saadiyat Island, where the Museum would be based - has invited building firms to submit pre-qualification documents by October 15.

Contractors will then go through a pre-qualification process before a shortlist is drawn up, The National added.

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