Alex Salmond is to approach Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds in the hope of gaining finance for some of Scotland's major building schemes such as the new £4bn road bridge over the Forth.

The First Minister is due to visit the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar next year and will explore whether funding there can help the Government's Scottish Futures Trust (SFT).

The Middle East country is the world's richest per capita and its Qatar Investment Authority has £35bn to spend - a pot which is due to double in size in two years.

A spokesman for the First Minister said matters were at an early stage and no deals had been struck for any particular project but he told The Herald: "It would be wrong to dismiss any potential opportunity out of hand. This is internationally recognised as a means of levering in investment."

In May, the SFT was unveiled with great fanfare by the Nationalist government, which said it would raise up to £150bn a year and cost less than Labour's previously preferred private finance initiative.

Andy Kerr, Labour's shadow finance secretary, responding to Mr Salmond's trip to Qatar, said: "It is clear the SNP's Scottish Futures Trust is in absolute chaos. In over a year since they came to power, SNP ministers have failed to commission a single new school. Now Alex Salmond wants to borrow money from Qatar to build a new Forth road bridge but his visit isn't planned until next year."

Mr Salmond's spokesman hit back, branding Mr Kerr's charge as "nonsense", and saying the Scottish Government only recently appointed Sir Angus Grossart, the former vice-chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, as chairman of the SFT.