Qatar has awarded a QAR4.5bn (US$1.24bn) dredging contract to a joint venture of a local company and a unit of Belgian building group CFE and holding firm Ackermans & Van Haaren, a statement said on Sunday. The contract to dredge a 20km approach channel for a QAR27bn new port project was awarded to Middle East Dredging (MEDCO), set up by Qatar\'s United Development, state-run Qatar Holding and Belgian dredging group DEME, the statement added. The QAR4.5bn dredging deal is the second construction contract to be announced, following the awarding of work to start construct on the port basin and inner breakwaters, which was won by the China Harbour Engineering Company in January 2011. The New Port Project is scheduled to be operational in 2016. It will span a 26.5 sqm area, have an annual total cargo handling capacity of 6m 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and will be one of the world\'s deepest seaports.