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I was looking at airports in Saudi Arabia and noticed a strange one. At Taif Regional Airport near Mecca there are a bunch of taxiways all seemingly randomly intersecting at different angles, each with a bulge in their width and a structure built in the middle of the bulge. Based on the shadows, they seem to be sunken by some amount with the structure built to roughly the same height that the taxiway is sunk. I counted at least 30 of these structures. The measuring tool on Google maps shows them to all be around 135 feet wide, and of various lengths.

I couldn't find any information about these structures or their purpose. Are they hangars of some sort? If so, why the strange design?

Taif Regional Airport structures

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Those are hardened aircraft shelters, and each hangar is flanked by two blast walls (revetment). Those are for combat aircraft (the airport is mixed-use: public/military).

Since in that hemisphere the sun is to the south, the shadows tell us they are not sunken structures, i.e. the hangars and walls are higher than the taxiways.

The numerous taxiways are for redundancy against bombing. And the overall pattern makes it harder for a single bomb run to affect all hangars.

Here's an aerial close-up from another Saudi Arabian airport, Tabuk Regional Airport:

enter image description here
Source: flickr.com

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  • $\begingroup$ More like a single strafing run; a lesson learned at Pearl Harbor. "Park all the planes together and out of their shelters; saboteurs are more likely than an air raid". $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 19 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ To clarify on the shadows: the OP is not suggesting, I think, that the structures themselves are excavated. Like you, they’re saying that the inner structures are higher than the taxiways; but they’re suggesting that the taxiways are sunken, as the shadows again show they’re lower than the ground along them. As your photo shows, that is partly true: the taxiways are at the ambient ground level, and the ground around them is banked up (which is also visible in the original image, but much less starkly). $\endgroup$ – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Apr 20 at 9:52

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