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"Arabian Nights" Days

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Oh I come from a land, from a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam.
Where it's flat and immense
And the heat is intensenote 
It's barbaric, but hey, it's home.

When the wind's from the east
And the sun's from the west
And the sand in the glass is right,
Come on down
Stop on by
Hop a carpet and fly
To another Arabian night!
— "Arabian Nights", Aladdin

Arabia: land of Ali-Baba, genies, belly dancers, sheikhs, Sultans, evil Grand Viziers (as well as some good ones), dashing thieves and harem girls. When Western Europe was having its Dark Age, the Islamic world was having its Golden Age, both preserving and enhancing the knowledge of civilization.

Here, Baghdad is still a wondrous, glittering city full of magic and mystery, instead of a grungy, sprawling Third World metropolis with soldiers in Humvees battling guys in dynamite vests through the cobblestone streets. It's the Baghdad of Harun al-Rashid and his artistic and scientific legacy.

Mostly based on the Muslim world which stretched from Southern Europe and North Africa all the way to South Asia during the Middle Ages. Expect for exotic, mystical deserts to appear, despite the fact that people from some parts of the region (ex. Spain, Turkey, and Bangladesh) lived nowhere close to a desert and probably never saw one all their lives. Maritime Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia), while a bastion of Islam nowadays, is specifically excluded, as it wasn't part of the Muslim world in the Middle Ages.note 


Historically, as noted above, this time period is analogous to the Dark Age Europe of the 7th to the 11th century, but this is rarely referenced - and sometimes outright contradicted.

Sometimes this trope is instead based on the 16th-19th centuries' Ottoman Empire. This type of Arabian Nights Days tends to put less emphasis on magic and more on harem girls.

This trope can be a form of Cultural Blending, as the "Islamic world" was (and is) home to various different cultures and languages, such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and many others.

A popular trope for this setting is Genie in a Bottle, traditionally a Literal Genie. Flying Carpets are popular too, as are rubies and sapphires bigger than your fist. The look and feel of a Bazaar of the Bizarre often draws heavily on this period as well. Expect at least one reference to the "sands of time."


In fiction set in modern times, the same region inevitably becomes Qurac.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: In the 25th World Martial Arts Tournament, the participant Pintar has an outfit similar to the Mid-Eastern style of the trope.
  • El-Hazard: Makoto Mizuhara finds himself (along with several other people) catapulted across dimensions to the world of El-Hazard. Once the site of an unimaginably advanced civilization that destroyed itself in an apocalyptic war, it is now home to a culture of this trope, sprinkled here and there with the remnants of ancient ultratechnology.
  • Much of the anime adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan is set in Pars, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Persian Empire, and the Arabian influence can be seen in the many characters' clothing, armor, weapons, surrounding architecture, etc.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is featured briefly in Arabia.
  • Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic draws inspiration from The Arabian Nights, but with more shonen and fantasy elements.
  • Arabian Nights: Adventures of Sinbad: As if the title itself isn't enough of a sign, the series adapts the stories of Sinbad the Sailor, as well as many other tales from the Arabian Nights (with Sinbad often replacing the protagonists of the original stories, though Ali Baba and Aladdin are also supporting characters in this show).
  • In Marginal #4 KISS kara Tsukuru Big Bang, L Nomura's ending Image Song "Kokoro Hitotsu" features him as an Arabian dancer, and the music video is filled with oasis and desert motifs.
  • Blue Ramun is set in the fictional Silkdeep Empire. Towns like Fargain are scattered througout the Empire's vast desert, loose cloaks and turbans are de rigueur, and protagonist Jessie comes from a Bedouin-esque tribe of nomads. Jessie's bloodletting/ surgical knives also resemble curved daggers from in the Middle East.
  • The whole planet of Zahhak from Avesta of Black and White has an Arabian theme going on as it's hat mostly thanks to its current ruler Kaikhosru, complete with deserts, Arabian styled architeture and Bedlah Babe's.


    Comic Books 
  • Fables portrays the free European fables as being stuck in the modern world after the adversary took over. When they ally with the Arabian Fables they expect them to be living in hiding in the middle east. Instead it turns out they are still living in their own traditional lands, complete with flying carpets, since the Adversary has only recently started targeting them and they are actually a cohesive force that can fight him, unlike the Europeans (who, when they were conquered, had a very medieval mindset with each fief and principality on its own).
  • The Sandman: One story features this version of Baghdad, which Caliph Harun al-Raschid finds so wonderful that he is haunted by the knowledge that it will someday end. He calls on Morpheus to preserve it forever, and Morpheus obliges by changing it into a more mundane version of the city, but causing the Arabian Nights Days version to live on in stories and dreams.
  • Iznogoud: The Baghdad in which the series is set owes more to an Affectionate Parody of Arabian Nights than to historical accuracy.
  • In the Douwe Dabbert story "The Gate to the East", Douwe ends up in an unnamed, stereotypical middle-eastern country. Shortly after this, the series becomes more firmly rooted in the real world - just two albums later, Douwe is traveling with the historical East India Trading Company.
  • Suske en Wiske: The story "Prinses Zagemeel" takes place in an unidentified Middle Eastern country, with classic elements like evil wizards, giants, and a princess.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Thief of Bagdad, a 1924 silent movie and a more famous 1940 remake. The 1940 version was extremely influential on later Hollywood films with an Arabian Nights theme.
  • The 2019 film revival of Aladdin, like its animated original. And, of course, numerous other live-action adaptations of the "Aladdin" story, of which there are too many to possibly list. Very rarely, if ever, does a cinematic Aladdin actually live in China, where his story nominally takes place.


  • Klatch on the Discworld is Arabian Nights Days in Sourcery, the first book Klatchians play a major part in, but by the time Jingo rolls around it's more of a late-19th/early-20th-century Lawrence of Arabia style Middle East, with a few Arabian Nights elements left in.
  • Edward Said devoted his Orientalism to debunking this sort of myth — or, more precisely, pointing out how the pervasiveness of this sort of myth prevented Europeans from having any sort of perspective on what the Middle East was, and is, actually like, as well as the fact that "orientalism" often misinterprets what's actually in Arabian Nights to begin with, especially the meaning of "fatalism", and the pervasive idea of sinister, effeminate guys (think Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon) and silent, puppetlike women. Of course, modern scholars point out that Said didn't have the whole picture, either.
  • Castle in the Air, which bears the same relationship to the Arabian Nights as its predecessor Howl's Moving Castle does to Western fairy tales.
  • And George Meredith's The Shaving of Shagpat, an entirely original story that could fit right into the original Arabian Nights, is fantastic and funny.
  • Andrei Belyanin:
    • The Thief of Baghdad has a modern-day Russian man end up in this trope thanks to a genie and Omar Khayyam. Suffering from magic-related amnesia, the protagonist learns the trade of thievery from Omar and embarks on the task of ending the rule of the evil Emir of Baghdad. On the way, he encounters Nasreddin, the Emir's guards, the Emir's entire harem (who are quite happy to see him), and... aliens (because why not?). The sequel, The Shamer of Shaitan, has the protagonist being sent back to Arabia (with his memories intact, this time) to take on Shaitan himself. The third novel Return the Thief! has ancient Arabia once again in need of the Thief, as it is on the brink of war. This time, the story is told to the author not by the titular character but by Nasreddin, who somehow ends up in modern times and seems to adjust pretty well.
    • Jack The Mad King: The third novel is called Jack in the East and has the titular protagonist travel to this world's equivalent of Arabia to rescue the sultan's daughter.
  • Washington Irving's Tales of the Alambra is set during the Spanish Reconquista: Arabian Nights Days with Badass Spaniards.
  • Yashim Series: An Ottoman Eunuch in the Nineteenth Century and his boon companion, a Polish Noble Fugitive. They Fight Crime!
  • The Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones are set in the 8th Century Caliphate, with generous heapings of fantasy added to the historical fiction.
  • The Father of Locks by Andrew Killeen has a meticulously researched 8th century Baghdad setting.
  • The Horse and His Boy takes place largely in Calormen, a fantasy culture with a clear debt to the Arabian Nights; it also appears in several other installments of The Chronicles of Narnia. The Arabian Nights even provided C. S. Lewis with the name "Aslan" (he found it in a footnote to an English translation; it is the Turkish word for "Lion".)
  • The city of Sirr in The Fractal Prince is a sci-fi interpretation of the trope. It is a great city built in the ruins of a fallen space station in the middle of the Wildcode Desert. Its inhabitants use technological flying carpets as their primary mode of transportation and bind Jinns, actually uploaded human minds living in the Wildcode, into jar-like miniature computers to use them as servitors. The theme of the place is essentially Magic from Technology.
  • The Fangs of K'aath by Paul Kidd and its sequel are set in Osra, a fictional sultanate which is essentially a combined Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Egypt, Persia, and the Abbasid Caliphate. Despite the inhabitants being funny animals, Islam and Christianity are both more or less the same, though perhaps both slightly more liberal. While there is sorcery, its day-to-day use seems to be mostly limited to Utility Magic such as dyeing fur.
  • A variation in The Librarians And The Lost Lamp. While the events take place in the 21st century (one storyline in 2006 and one in 2016), the focus is on this trope as told in Scheherezade's Arabian Nights. Apparently, everything that she wrote about in her book (at least, the original edition, which Flynn discovers in 2006) has actually happened. There's a nod to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when the Forty (the modern-day version of Ali Baba's Forty Thieves) force Flynn and a Baghdad historian to help them find Aladdin's lamp. As they enter the lamp's resting place (where it was placed by Ali Baba and Sinbad), they see dozens of different lamps. Flynn deliberately makes a grab for a clearly Arabic one, when, in fact, he knows perfectly well that, in the original story, Aladdin obtained the lamp in China. When the Big Bad grabs the fake lamp, it rapidly heats up and burns his hand, at the same time starting a cave-in, while Flynn and the historian make off with the jade lamp of Zhy dynasty design, which turns out to be the real deal. In the 2016 plotline, Stone is annoyed at the cheap Hollywood version of this trope being displayed in a Vegas casino, constantly complaining about everything the casino gets wrong.
  • Five-year-old H. P. Lovecraft was crazy about this kind of "Arabian romanticism", after his mother bought him the Andrew Lang edition. Naming himself Abdul al-Hazred, he insisted that he was a Muslim. His mother bought him some appropriate ceramics and decorations and made him a proper outfit. The sense of exotic enchantment and wondrous cities with elaborate architecture and gardens is enshrined in his Dreamland tales. He probably read the Holy Q'ran too. Fans have identified "The Nameless City" as having been partially inspired by Iram of the Pillars and some of the tales in the Shah Nameh.
  • The Land Of Green Ginger is somewhere between a parody of this trope and a nigh-Troperiffic tribute — djinn, magic carpets, sultans, and desert cities included.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Charmed episode "I Dream of Phoebe" — genie in a bottle? Check. Flying carpets? Check. Men with scimitars? Check. Magical desert city? Check.
  • Agrabah, as portrayed in the Once Upon a Time spin-off. As the Enchanted Forest is modelled after medieval Europe, it's only fitting that Agrabah gets patterned after the Middle East. Plenty of genies and flying carpets, with a Bedlah Babe or two thrown in.
  • Mahou Sentai Magiranger: The Sixth Ranger Magishine has a magic carpet as his mode of transportation, and a magic lamp-shaped firearm as his Weapon of Choice, the latter complete with a genie living inside who acts as his sidekick. So does his counterpart, Solaris Knight, from the American adaptation Power Rangers Mystic Force.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The Arabian Nights expansion of Magic: The Gathering (actually inspired by the above Sandman example). It was later retconned into the plane of Rabiah. Another Arabian-inspired plane called Alkabah is briefly seen in IDW's comic series.
  • GURPS Arabian Nights is about roleplaying within this trope, while some lands within the world of GURPS Banestorm reflect it. GURPS Castle Falkenstein: The Ottoman Empire is about a version of the Ottoman Empire, in a Gaslamp Fantasy world, that's very heavy on the Arabian Nights elements.
  • Ars Magica, while typically set in Mythic Europe, frequently includes elements of this trope either due to the influence of Islamic culture upon European scholastics and the Fourth Crusade (and Reconquista). In particular, the 4th Edition supplement "Blood and Sand" covers the Levant while the 5th Edition book "The Cradle and the Crescent" details the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Transoxiana.
  • Tales of the Arabian Nights is a Gamebook-style game that runs on Random Encounters from different Arabian Nights archetypes and characters. The game board is even based on an ancient Arabian map.
  • Carpharnaum is set in an Arabian Nights inspired fantasy world which includes djinn, dragons, and magic.
  • Coriolis: The Third Horizon is a Space Opera take on the concept, drawing heavily from the Arabian Nights and Middle Eastern mythology for its feel and more mystical aspects such as the Icons.

    Video Games 
  • Guild Wars Nightfall has the region of Vabbi in the continent of Elona which is modeled after this; other regions include Istan, the Desolation, and Kourna in which the first two are modeled after Ancient Egypt and the third as sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The Prince of Persia series is set firmly here, with many franchises having the hero save a princess from an evil Vizier.
  • The Treasures of Aht Urhgan expansion of Final Fantasy XI, complete with an evil Grand Vizier who heads the mysterious, veiled Immortals.
  • Quest for Glory II is built off this trope, including flying carpets, genies in rings, and versions of Harun al-Rashid, Ja'afar and Iblis.
  • In Monster World IV, the whole world is a fantasy version of this.
  • Doki Doki Panic is largely based around this trope, since it was originally developed and released as part of a festival run by Fuji TV in 1987, which had a cast of Arabian characters (a full family plus the girlfriend of the parents' older son) as its mascots. As a result some elements, such as the flying carpets, are also in Super Mario Bros. 2. In turn, Mario Kart 7 has a track based on the Subcon desert called Shy Guy Bazaar, complete with Super Mario Bros. 2 references and Middle East-inspired music.
  • Wario Land 4 has Arabian Night, a haunted Arabian town that exhibits noticeable verticality. Thus, magic carpets are necessary to traverse its buildings.
  • The Gerudo from the Legend of Zelda (debuting in Ocarina of Time) series seem to be very loosely based off of this trope, where the harem girls are thieves. Also, their king, Ganondorf, happens to be the main antagonist in the series, and he happens to be skilled with sorcery. He's not particularly associated with this trope outside Ocarina, though, and as of Breath of the Wild Ganondorf's relation to the Gerudo has been largely obscured by history; the Gerudo seem to have become a true One-Gender Race, so the harem girls are now the entire population of their desert town,note  though men aren't allowed beyond the gates. Additionally, Gerudo soldiers and travelers are often seen wielding scimitars.
  • The Alin from Rise of Legends are based on this trope. Their floating cities are located in a vast desert, and their lands are full of magical creatures made up of fire and glass. There are, of course, genies. Interestingly, the Alin are on the verge of being overrun by the so-called Dark Alin, creatures born of magic fueled by an alien artifact. The intro film shows Alin forces besieging a Vinci city in a clear case of Magic Versus Technology. This never happens in the game, however. The other Fantasy Counterpart Cultures in the game are the Vinci (Renaissance-era Italy fueled by Leonardo's Steampunk and Clock Punk inventions) and the Cuotl (a Mayincatec culture using technology given by their Sufficiently Advanced Alien masters). And while the Alin-Vinci battle never happens in the game, the ending heavily implies that, with the Alin no longer under threat, they are looking West towards the Vinci city-states to expand their territory.
  • Team Fortress 2 had Arab-themed sets for the Demoman, Sniper and Spy (One Thousand And One Demoknights, Lawrence Of Australia and Saharan Spy respectively). Out of the three, the Saharan Spy was considered overpowered.
  • Both Diablo II and Diablo III have desert cities with this motif.
  • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light: The city of Guera has this aesthetic.
  • Al-Mamoon in Ni no Kuni. Its name even means something like "a safe place" in Arabic (and doubles as a pun on the fact that its ruler is a cow woman).
  • King's Quest VI: The Isle of the Crown is vaguely Arabic in culture, but is covered in lush vegetation.
  • Al Maajik in Fantasy Life. It's also the setting's magic capital.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic the Academy faction has this theme in V and VII, with wizards in Arabian attire riding flying carpets, commanding armies of golems, djinn and titans.
  • In Faery: Legends of Avalon, one of the three worlds you get sent to is partly based on Middle Eastern mythology (with Ancient Egypt making up the remainder). It's populated genies, peris, and so forth — some of whom were the inspiration for various human stories and myths, although they don't necessarily live up to the tales.
  • Wizard 101: Mirage, in a high fantasy sort of way.
  • Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse has this as overriding theme, as it's set in the Al-Qadim sub-setting of the Forgotten Realms. Scimitar-wielding corsairs, genies, scheming viziers, and magic carpets all make their obligatory appearances.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped has the levels of Hang 'em High, High Time, and Flaming Passion, all set in what is presumably Abbasid-era Baghdad. Interestingly, all three of them contain colored gems, making it the only setting that contains more than one colored gem. Additionally, the second warp station is modeled after the same theme.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the Redguards, Tamriel's race of dark-skinned humans, who have significant Arabian/Moorish influences to their culture. They hail from the desert province of Hammerfell, have a strong martial tradition including scimitars as a favored weapon type, dress in a very North African/Arabian style, breed some of the best horses in Tamriel, and draw heavily from these cultures for their Fantastic Naming Convention. In the vein of Culture Chop Suey, they combine these traits with heavy influences from Japanese Samurai culture.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, the 1001 Arabian Nights gacha set has this theme, featuring the members of UNDEAD wearing traditional clothing and wielding scimitars, and Arabian exchange student Adonis lounging with a white tiger.
  • In After the End: A Crusader Kings II Mod, this is parodied by the Neo-Moor Orientalists, descendants of non-Muslims in Florida (which they have named Agrabah). They picked up Shriner lore, Arabian Nights, the Koran, and a copy of Disney's Aladdin, and mixed it all together with local influences to create a curious, unique culture and religion. They are technically accepted as a pecuilar, heterodox form of Islam by the Traditionalists and Imamites, realistic depictions of the descendants of American Muslims who avert this trope.
  • Mount & Blade: Warband and Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord have this in the nations of the Sarranid Sultanate and the Aserai, respectively, as both are Arab-inspired nations.
  • The main setting of the Shantae series is Sequin Land, which takes much of its influence from Turkey, with elements including the designs of the various towns, Shantae's belly dancing style, and Sky's love of falconry. The backstory of the setting also has the land as having been previously protected by scores of genies, with Shantae being the half-human offspring of one of them.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Prince Achmed takes its main plot from the Arabian Nights story "The Ebony Horse", and it even has Aladdin as a supporting character.
  • Disney's Aladdin franchise. The original "Aladdin" is nominally set in China, but given the fact that "China" as described in the story is identical to the average Arabian city of the time, it's likely that the author was just engaging in a bit of exoticism.note 
  • Alfred J. Kwak: The Evil Genie of Darkness originates from an ambiguously Middle Eastern kingdom which still looks to be in medieval times. The rest of the show has a lot of Anachronism Stew as well, but Egypt curiously seems to be set in the modern-day.
  • The Arabian Knights: One of the cartoon segments on The Banana Splits show.
  • Fantastic Max, looking for the right kind of sand for his sandbox, ended up in the land of Dinar. There he was mistaken for the long-lost prince, who was actually leading a band of loveable rogues in a The Desert Song-like situation.
  • Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights, though the Arabian setting acts more like a background that grants place for stories set elsewhere.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: One of the butchered cuts of the film outright sets the story in Baghdad, although the original only ever calls it "The Golden City". Fits the trope regardless.
  • Casbahmopolis in Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? looks more or less like this. Of note is the character of Neefa Feefa, an "eyeball dancer" who performs in an outfit that covers everything except her eyes, not unlike a burka.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ancient Arabia


Arabian Nights

The opening to Disney's "Aladdin" TV series

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArabianNightsDays

Media sources:

Main / ArabianNightsDays