Doha is about to become the tunnelling capital of the Middle East as it moves forward on a series of multibillion-dollar infrastructure schemes ahead of the Fifa 2022 World Cup.

The projects that involve large-scale tunnelling works are the Doha Bay Crossing, the Inner Doha Resewerage Implementation Strategy (Idris), and the Doha metro scheme.

The most advanced scheme is the Doha metro. Contractors submitted bids for the tunnelling packages at the end of last year and awards are expected imminently for the Red Line South and Red Line North packages.

The two other schemes are at earlier stages. After the appointment of US-based CH2M Hill as programme manager in 2011, contractors have now been invited to prequalify for the first construction packages on the Idris scheme, with tendering and contract awards expected to start later this year.

The Doha Bay Crossing, which involves building a series of bridges and tunnels, is at an even earlier stage, but after some doubts on the future of the project, US-based Fluor and the local office of KEO International Consultants have now been appointed to manage the project – the clearest signal yet that the estimated QR10bn ($2.7bn) scheme will move ahead.

As Doha gears up for the World Cup, most eyes will be on the stadiums and other facilities that will be built above the surface, but most of the real work will be going on underground.