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"The rich history of the Middle East is well-documented, so there is little that authors need to add by way of discouraging you from visiting there."

A Fictional Country in North Africa, the Middle East, or South or Central Asia, typically Arab or Iranian, named for the fictional country that causes so much trouble in The DCU. There are three (often overlapping) versions:

The modern Arabian Nights version tends to be ruled by a gobsmackingly rich Sultan and/or Sheikh, with his doe-eyed concubines to be put at the disposal of the Honoured Effendi. Oil is compulsory. Often a Crapsaccharine World that still uses beheadings, hangings and stonings for minor crimes despite the facade of a Shining City with Crystal Spires and Togas (in other words, a kind of Middle Eastern Brunei). Prototypes are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (especially Dubai), Iran and other oil-rich areas in the Arabian Peninsula, and the Maldives.

Another version has a Tin-Pot Dictator whose pretentious title is inversely proportional to the size of his domain. His ragtag army and air force will probably be equipped with rusting Soviet surplus and manned by luckless conscripts, a few of which may be genuinely crazy. Oil is optional, America-hating terrorists are a must. It is usually located in North Africa or the Middle East, with Saddam-era Iraq, Gaddafi-era Libya, post-Ottoman Egypt and contemporary Syria as prototypes. It may also be a Muslim-majority region of South Asia (Soviet invasion-era Afghanistan, contemporary Pakistan, and Bangladesh when it was under the control of Pakistan as East Pakistan being prototypes) or former Soviet territory in Central Asia (Turkmenistan appears to be the prototype here, with its now-deceased batshit insane dictator Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov and his only slightly less batshit insane successor Gurbanguly "Arkadag" Berdimuhamedow).


The third version is a Jihadistan ruled by a junta of religious fanatics, imams, ayatollahs and mullahs. You are likely to see only men in the streets, with women either being locked in their homes or wearing black burqas and escorted by men. An overall sense of squalor and apathy prevails, interrupted by occasional flag burnings, beheadings and stonings. Oil optional. Prototypes are Taliban-era Afghanistan (who appears to be a mix of types 2, and 3), the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan during its civil war, Islamic State-occupied territory, the Tribal Zone in Pakistan, the disputed region of Kashmir on the border between Pakistan and India, and Bangladesh during it's Liberation War. Iran appears to be a mix of types 1, 2, and 3.

Whichever version you're in, expect mosques, veils, scampering children demanding Baksheesh, heat, sand, and camels. And a lot of big-bearded Church Militants (or Mosque Militants in this case, and either for or against the ruling regime) wielding AK47s, shouting "Jihad!" or "Allahu Akbar!" and blowing themselves up for 72 virgins. Oh, and oil. And you can marry up to four wives if you're a guy. And no queer people allowed there. If you don't like Kebab or Hummus, you'd better bring your own food. Ironically, do not expect to hear Arab Beoble Talk—that trope is almost unheard of in the West, so people familiar with it generally provide a more faithful depiction of Muslim countries.


Heads up for writers: many countries in the list have the suffix "-stan" in them as an obvious nod to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the various former Soviet republics ending with that suffix. It's not something to misuse. If you want a Qurac that is explicitly Arab in culture, do not use the suffix. There has never been an Arab country that has "-stan" in it and there will never be one; it's a Persian suffix meaning "land of" and is restricted to the Iranian and Turkic worlds.

Note that such a country is only Qurac if it's on Earth. Stereotypically Middle Eastern-style countries on other worlds are "Arabian Nights" Days-style Fantasy Counterpart Cultures.

On a side note, Qatar is the only (real) country in the world that has a name starting with "Q" (and furthermore, this is only a Romanization convention). On another note, the phonetic sounding of "Qurac" is identical to the word for "dry" or "arid" in Turkish (spelled: kurak) and Azeri (spelled: quraq). It is also one letter away from a vulgar word for penis in some Slavic languages such as Serbian.

See also Bulungi, Ruritania, Banana Republic and Tropical Island Adventure.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Area 88 is set in the fictional Middle-Eastern nation of Asran (also spelled Aslan), following the exploits of a foreign legion of mercenary fighter pilots during a civil war. Although it's fairly clear from the descriptions of the people, and the time-period it is set in, that it's a fictional version of Iran during the overthrow of the Shah.
  • Attack on Titan The Mid-East Alliance, formed by Middle-eastern-looking countries fighting a war against Marley after they lost the Colossal and Female Titans. Their soldiers wear fezes and in the manga their speech bubbles have arabic script.
  • Mireille and Kirika of Noir have one mission in an unnamed Mideastern nation in the episode "The Black Thread Of Fate" involving them being hired to kill a warlord and then escape to their extraction point after the mission goes south and Kirika is wounded.
  • Belgistan in Gasaraki.
  • Full Metal Panic!'s anime features the fictional country of Helmajistan, which was a bowdlerization — the novels use Afghanistan instead. The reasoning for this was because the original books were written before 9/11 and The War on Terror began. When the anime went into production, it was considered too soon to use Afghanistan, so a fictional substitute was used instead.
  • Azadistan in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Azadistan is quite obviously Iran/Persia, from its location to its name (آزادستان, Persian for "land of freedom"). Mobile Suit Gundam 00 also features a short-lived, war-torn Kurdish Republic on Azadistan's border. Which is more proof of Azadistan being a future version of Iran, since if a Kurdish nation were ever formed it would inherently be along the northwest border of Iran since that's where Kurds have lived for over a thousand years.
  • Area 18, the unspecified Middle Eastern territory from Code Geass. It was on screen for such little time, though, that not much was shown aside from its desert location and stereotypically-dressed natives.
    • It was named "The Middle-Eastern Federation" (and the characters actually call it this, at least in the subbed version) prior to its conquest by The Holy Empire of Britiannia. Presumably it was a composite of many otherwise real modern nations of the region.
    • Also, it apparently had ideals involving equality and democracy, or at least the Emperor berated them and the EU in the same sentence for trying to pretend that all men are created equal, when class-system is clearly the right way to go.
  • Planetes has Mananga, an oil-producing desert country torn by civil war.
  • The Lupin III (Red Jacket) series has several episodes featuring these; one of them, for example, takes place in Cocodad; an impoverished desert nation of only three thousand people.

    Comic Books 
  • Qurac, the Trope Namer, from the DC Universe. In the 1980s, Qurac appeared in New Teen Titans (where it was introduced), Adventures of Superman, and Suicide Squad. It was initially a blatant stand-in for Iraq (it was led by President Marlo, who was drawn to resemble Saddam Hussein, and it was at war with a country called Kyran). Qurac sponsored a Humongous Mecha attack on Metropolis and a team of superpowered terrorists called the Jihad. Superman disarmed the country's military. In a three-issue Superman story called The Sinbad Contract focused on Quraci immigrants living in Metropolis, Qurac gained a few traits from Iran (specifically, a past leader called a Shah predating Marlo's regime). This story established that large numbers of people had fled Qurac over its government's actions. In the 90s, Qurac was wiped off the face of Earth by the assassin Cheshire, using nukes she stole and ultimately detonated for the evilulz. Its appearances after Flashpoint have been very rare (Scott Lobdell has used it to re-set events that originally took place in Ethiopia), and it appeared in a Steve Orlando-written fill-in arc of Wonder Woman (Rebirth).
    • There is also Bialya (also wiped off the face of the Earth, during "52"), which was a stand-in for Syria and was heavily featured when JLA was JLI. And there's Umar (a thinly-veiled Iraq, complete with America-instigated war during the Joe Kelly JLA run). Not to mention Kahndaq (a more liberalized Egypt, ruled by Pharaonic Anti-Hero Black Adam).
    • There's also Umec (acronym for "unamed Middle-Eastern country"), which was invaded by the US during Greg Rucka's Adventures of Superman run.
    • Another example is Syraq, dating back to 1988's Detective Comics #590. Twenty years before Frank Miller announced his "Batman fights Middle Eastern Terrorists" project.
      • A certain country is obviously Iran in the initial print run of A Death in the Family, as a major plot point is the Diplomatic Impunity conferred on The Joker by Ayatollah Khomeni himself as part of a plot to gas the United Nations to death. Worse yet, Batman refers to an Iranian gunman firing at him in the Joker's helicopter as a "panicked Arab." (There is a reason why this chapter is not highly regarded.) Presumably the changed political climate necessitated a rapid Roman à Clef when the time came for reprints, and Syraq was conveniently substituted in.
    • The Prestige one-shot Superpower featured two countries, Kirai and Vudistan, stand-ins for Iraq and Kurdistan. The former was invaded by JLA washout Antaeus, who assassinated the country's dictator.
  • In the French more-or-less hard Sci-Fi comic Gipsy, there's a "Socialist Republic of Turdistan" in chapter #5.
  • Meanwhile, the Marvel Universe has a Qurac in the form of Aqiria, the original home of the supervillain Fasaud (a Fantastic Four villain from the late 80's - not one of Steve Englehart's prouder moments). It receives much less page-time than European Latveria or African Wakanda. Champions introduces Sharzad, which is specifically a stand-in for Pakistan though is noted for having an unusually high level of gender equality.
  • Khemed in The Adventures of Tintin is a Qurac invented to re-set scenes in Palestine once these scenes were no longer topical.
  • Afbagistan is the fictional setting of Rick Veitch's scabrous War On Terror satire Army@Love
  • Trucial Abysmia appeared in several issues of Marvel's G.I. Joe comics. As indicated in G.I. Joe Special Missions #18, it is located on the eastern coast of North Africa. It represents Middle-Eastern dictator-ruled countries in the region. It was involved in a conflict the neighboring emirate of Benzheen.
  • Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool has a passing mention of Kuhlavi, ruled by the "desert lord" Haroun Zamahdi.
  • The titular Pootweet in the Fat Freddy's Cat comic "The Sacred Sands of Pootweet".
  • Lousdem in Weapons of Mass Diplomacy is a Middle-Eastern dictatorship which the Bush administration intends to invade.
  • The Papercutz Hardy Boys graphic novels heavily feature war-torn Osyria — the first book is about a stolen ancient artwork from the country and later books feature miscellaneous Osyrians as henchmen.
  • Dastardly & Muttley has the nation of Unliklistan, which is ruled King Ahuk-Ahuk-Harem, seems to be both incredibly poor and anti-West, and gets blown up by Unstabilium-239 at the start of the story. The Senators investigating the Unstabilium realize that no one's ever heard of Unliklistan, to the point that it appears to have popped up over night. It's eventually concluded that the Unstabilium must have created it wholesale.

    Film — Animated 
  • Naturally, Agrabah in Disney's Aladdin is an Arabian Nights version of this trope, combining Arabian and Indian cultures. Doubly so as when the show was released in other countries, the writers were careful about name and design choices to not potentially offend anyone.
    • In the source material, the story of Aladdin is set specifically in China. But since it's probably an Arabic folktale (its point of origin is extremely vague, and it first showed up in an eighteenth-century French translation of The Arabian Nights), since 'China' is a generic term for ' country way off to the east' in Middle Eastern folktales, and since everyone in the story has Arabic names (the original storytellers presumably not being too familiar with the actual China), Disney moved it to Qurac.
    • That said, China does have a lot of land that is actually Central Asian Muslim, so it's not far fetched.
  • Team America: World Police realize that the nation of "Derk-Derka-Stan" was responsible for the attack on the Panama Canal and go there to try and retaliate. However they never get to land there (as they're shot down above their airspace). Cairo, Egypt is, however, portrayed this way.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 6 Underground: Turgistan is seemingly in the Middle East, likely based on Syria, though its name is derived from Turkestan, an archaic term for Central Asia.
  • Ben-Hur had a few scenes of Arabia during Bible Times/Ancient Rome time. Of particular note was Ilderim, a lusty, swaggering sheik who gleefully raised Arabian horses and cleverly mocked the Roman soldiers. It's his chariot that Heston is driving in the famous Chariot Race scene. A linguistic blunder in that Ilderim is a Turkic name (meaning 'thunderbolt'; yıldırım in modern Turkish). In the period when Ben-Hur was set, the ancestral Turks were still living in East Asia and had not made any contact with Arabs yet.
  • Covert Assassin (you can tell a lot about it just from that title) involves a flight to "The Middle East". It never even specifies what country, suggesting the makers of the movie thought of the entire region as this trope.
  • The film Death Before Dishonor featured the nation of Jemal, where anti-American sentiment spills over into terrorist acts. Media studies professor Jack Shaheen wrote in his book, Reel Bad Arabs, that it ranked in the 4 most anti-Arab films of all time.
  • The Sacha Baron Cohen movie The Dictator is about the dictator of the fictional Republic of Wadiya. The dictator, Admiral General Aladeen, is pretty much a combination of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Subverted somewhat in that we are shown where the country is, which is where Eritrea is in Real Life.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade's Republic of Hatay could have count as an aversion because such a state actually existed in southern Turkey during the late 1930s, but it was nothing like the movie version. The Establishing Shot with the line "Republic of Hatay" clearly shows Stock Footage of the Hagia Sofia church/mosque in Istanbul during dawn and is immediately followed by a meeting between the bad guys and the Sultan of the country. Anybody gets what's wrong with that?
    • Plus the city of Petra (used as the grail temple) is in Jordan.
  • Iron Eagle pits a heroic kid pilot against the entire air force of the anonymous Middle Eastern country responsible for shooting down and holding his father for ransom.
    • The sequel, Iron Eagle II, similarly uses an anonymous Middle Eastern nation that's developed covert nuclear weapons as the Big Bad.
    • Note that in both cases, the country's location is shown on maps during briefings - it's Libya in the first movie, Iran in the second one, consistent with the U.S.'s two biggest Middle Eastern enemies at the time the movies were made. It's just that the countries' names are never mentioned, and the national flags displayed are imaginary.
  • The titular country in Ishtar is a classic example. The two Idiot Heroes are struggling American songwriters who go the dangerous nation due to performing there being their only option for a job. They end up being unwittingly roped into a plot to kill the Emir and Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Jewel of the Nile: The fictional country of Kadir is ruled by your typical tinpot dictator, and the insurgents trying to depose him look just like Mujahideen.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service begins with an assault of some base in the middle of an unspecified desert.
  • Midnight Express did this to Turkey, creating the whole "Turkish prison" cliché and ironing it on everyone's mind.
  • Syriana revolves around who controls the oil reserves of an unidentified Qurac.
  • Turaqistan, from War, Inc., is a Middle Eastern country occupied by an American private corporation run by a former US Vice-President.
  • A Sailor-Made Man: Harold's Navy vessel takes shore leave in Agar Shahar Khairpura, the "City of a Thousand Rascals", in the country of Khairpura-Bhandanna. Harold then has an adventure where he rescues his girlfriend from the predatory maharajah.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice manages to roll up Qurac and Bulungi into one, with the fictional country of Nairomi (rather unimaginative mangling of the capital of Kenya, Nairobi). It is Bulungi because it seems to be sub-Saharan African in culture and population, but also Qurac because it's desert and implied to be Muslim.
  • Ernest in the Army revolves around a war between the fictional Persian Gulf countries of Arizia and Karifistan.

  • Alif the Unseen takes place in a fictional Middle Eastern country complete with rich emirs, veiled women, and extreme religious views.
  • H.G. Wells has two short stories taking place in the middle east or Muslim Asia, one being an Arabian Nights-period morality tale with a premise clearly inspired by the story of the Taj Mahal, and the other being a bait-and-switch tale taking place in what at the time of writing was probably the perception of the "contemporary" Muslim world (possibly the Himalayas).
  • Cat Among the Pigeons involves a hunt for royal jewels from the country of Ramat.
  • Orson Scott Card's Empire makes use of one of these. An unnamed Muslim country, where the USA is doing something unauthorized, seems to be the Theme Park version of Afghanistan but is explicitly not Afghanistan.
  • Christopher Buckley's Florence Of Arabia takes place in the fundamentalist Wasabia and the more westernized Matar, which appear to be Strawman Political Expys of Saudi Arabia and Qatar respectively.
  • Modesty Blaise has the Sheikdom of Malaurak in the first novel, a small Arabian country inhabited by nomadic tribes which has recently become part of the modern world due to the discovery of oil.
  • The downtimer jihadists and their uptime recruiters in Time Scout are presented as Muslim extremists and rabid misogynists, all from an exploded time terminal in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.
  • Cataclysmic Horizons has the northeastern United States get taken over by a Type III regime that very quickly tries to ethnic-cleanse "Ameristan" of all non-Arabs and non-Muslims. It plays with Zombie Apocalypse tropes, using the Jihadists as a substitute for zombies.
  • Sheri S. Tepper created the state of Alphenlicht ("elf light"?) for her Marianne trilogy (Marianne, the Magus and the Manticore, Marianne, the Madame and the Momentary Gods and Marianne, the Matchbox and the Malachite Mouse). Alphenlicht is a micronation tucked away somewhere where Iran, Turkey, and the Soviet Union get their borders muddled up in the mountains. It is ruled by a hereditary theocracy of Magi (Zoroastrian priests and the original magicians), and has the neighboring micronation of Lubovosk as its dire enemy. Lubovosk used to be part of Alphenlicht but was seized by the USSR and made into a puppet state. It, too, is headed by a Magocracy, an evil branch of the same family.
  • The Mark and the Void has the Caliphate of Oran, a fictional Gulf nation plagued by Islamic terrorists, fueled by oil, and ruled by a single, extremely wealthy man.
  • The BattleTech novel Double-Blind features the Periphery planet of Astrokasky, which is this trope on a planetary level. The whole place is a desert world with city-states ruled by caliphs who fight with each other and with the nomads who wander the deserts between cities. The leaders live in luxurious palaces while the people starve, many are slaves, women have no rights, etc.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several of 24's Big Bads have come from Qurac. The show has also featured America attempting to start war on Qurac and its neighbours several times.
    • The second season was particularly Egregious, only referring to the respective Quracs as "three Middle Eastern countries." Names for the countries on Television Without Pity ranged from "Isn'treal" to "Tofurkey".
    • Season 8 gives us the Islamic Republic of Kamistan, which seems to be a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Iran, with Anil Kapoor as a reforming President.
  • Airwolf averts this by using Libya as a setting in the pilot episode and Libyan agents occasionally return in the rest of the series; dictator Muammar Qaddafi is even named, if not shown, as the ultimate architect of the plots to steal Airwolf.
  • The A-Team visited one once as well, a country with a monarchy threatened by a revolutionary movement; the A-Team is hired as bodyguards for the nation's princess.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Zygon Invasion"/"The Zygon Inversion", the militant Zygons (who are directly equated within the story with Islamic terrorists) have occupied a small town in the fictional country of "Turmezistan", which appears to be somewhere in Central Asia, serving as a stand-in for Real Life Central Asian country Turkmenistan.
    • Turmezistan returns in "The Pyramid at the End of the World". At this point, it's somehow become a major geopolitical flashpoint, with American, Russian and Chinese forces openly confronting each other, and hence where the titular pyramid appears.
  • The kingdom of Hortensia in Galavant appears Qurac-ish with its "pointy-hatted army" and an Arabian-esque castle/fortress.
  • Despite having several episodes taking place in the Middle East, JAG subverts this trope by always using real countries, no matter how unfavorable the portrayal may be.
  • MacGyver (1985) visited a few of these, especially in season 1, though usually in opening gambits so we don't get much more than a glimpse of the country. One of these gambits portrays two tribes living in desert encampments ready to go to war over a stolen horse. Another portrays a desert fortress where terrorist activities are being planned against the United States. A third has him destroying a nuclear reactor that was about to go operational.
    • We finally get a full episode in an unnamed North African Qurac towards the end of the season, where he infiltrates a prison in order to rescue a social worker. The country's authorities are shown to be corrupt and abusive - soldiers harass street merchants, the prison warden colludes with a drug dealing inmate, and a prisoner Mac befriends is there "for the crime of not bribing a judge." Slightly averted, however, in that the authorities turn out to have had a very good reason to lock up the alleged social worker, who's really a thief and arms dealer with terrorist connections.
  • Although many missions took place in Ruritania or the Banana Republic, Mission: Impossible did venture into Qurac from time to time.
  • The Poirot adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express included the stoning of a woman in 1934 Istanbul (which should be then at the height of Ataturk's westernization policies, no less) for seemingly no reason at all. Looks like Turkey can't just catch a break.
    • Word of God is that it was intended to have Poirot thinking about how "the law" doesn't always mean justice, tying in to his decision at the end.
  • In Tyrant, the protagonist's father is the dictator of a fictional Middle-Eastern country called Abbudin.
  • A long-running arc on The West Wing involved the fictional country of Qumar, noted for its strategically useful location for US military interests, its cruel treatment of women ("The Women of Qumar"), and the fact that the President ordered the assassination of its secretary of defense ("Posse Comitatus"), which eventually prompted the retaliatory kidnapping of his daughter ("Twenty Five").
    • Qumar's relationship to the US is modeled closely on Saudi Arabia's, as are its human rights issues. Brief glimpses of maps in the situation room show Qumar is a small nation north of the Strait of Hormuz, bordered on all other sides by Iran.
    • At the same time much of the West Wing is modeled on past events in the real world which Sorkin read about and fictionalised. One of the war room subplots, for example, was inspired by Clinton's bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, though in that case it was identified as being an attack on Syria.
    • The West Wing also had 'Equatorial Kundu' which was undergoing a very African civil war.
    • And ironically, despite having two fictional countries on the books, the series mocks a fictional Republican representative for not knowing that Freedonia is a fictional country.
  • In Yes, Minister, Jim Hacker visits Qumran, a fictional Muslim country based on Pakistan — in fact, the scene where Hacker and his staff secretly consume alcohol was based on a real-life incident that happened on a British diplomatic visit to Pakistan.
    • On another occasion a British nurse was sentenced to several lashes for possessing a bottle of whiskey, which provokes a miniature crisis as the government does not want to push too hard as the Qumranis are described as great friends of Britain, letting them know what the Soviets were up to in Iraq, allowing listening posts to be set up for Britain's use, and even sabotaging Opec agreements for them.
    • Another possible Qurac in Yes, Minister is "The People's Democratic Republic of East Yemen". In reality Yemen was divided into the communist People's Republic of South Yemen and North Yemen (first the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen and then the Yemen Arab Republic).
    • Qumran becomes Qumranistan in the Yes, Prime Minister stage revival and the subsequent TV remake.
  • Leverage has its share of fictional countries, particularly Kazhistan in "The Queen's Gambit Job," who is secretly developing a nuclear weapon. There's also the African country of Wadata in "The Scheherazade Job" - that one focuses on the (honest) ruler's corrupt brother.
  • Designated Survivor has the small Middle Eastern nation of Kunami, introduced in the Season 2 episode "Two Ships" after a US destroyer collides with a garbage barge in its territorial waters. It appears to be a fusion of Yemen and Iran as it is described as having a shaky regime with numerous sanctions imposed on it, including one for a nuclear enrichment program. But then Iran is namedropped in the previous season and in the same episode on is willing to support Kunami if the US attempts a rescue mission by force. A map shows that they're located next to Saudi Arabia from the northeast next to the Persian Gulf.
    • Kunami reappears later in the season in the episode "Fallout", when they stage a False Flag Operation to make it appear that the North Korea stand-in East Han Chiu attacked D.C. with a dirty bomb, in order to start a war they can profit from by selling East Han Chiu weapons on the black market. This enrages President Kirkman to the point he orders airstrikes on the country, trying to force the Emir to admit responsibility and stand down. Then the following episode "Overkill" reveals that the attack was actually engineered by Kunami's ambassador to the US and a Sunni rebel leader, in the hopes that the US would invade and topple the Shi'a minority regime. Then, a SEAL team discovers stockpiled chemical weapons which were to be used on Sunni dissidents, which is used as leverage to remove the Emir anyway.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "Instant Coffee", the Arab ruler of an oil-rich country located between Oman and the UAE on the Persian gulf, appears to die from poisoning after drinking coffee. The king is very conservative and is trying to keep outside influence out his country, while his son is far more progressive, engaged to a westerner, and looking to get foreign oil money into the country to improve life for the common people.

  • The music video for '80s new-wavers Blancmange's "Living On the Ceiling" was filmed in Egypt and features all the stereotypical money shots of riding camels at the pyramids, crowded bazaars, and dancing veiled harem girls. The song itself has a Mideastern-sounding beat as well as sitars (thus overlapping with Sim Sim Salabim).
  • Shows up in the music video for R. Kelly's song "Snake"

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Berzerkistan in Doonesbury. Its now-deposed dictator Trff Bmzklfrpz borrows some elements from former Turkmenistan president Saparmurat Niyazov, including the willy-nilly renaming of various things.
  • Modesty Blaise: "Willie the Djinn" is set in Shibarahn, a sheikdom in the process of transitioning from its nomadic tribal past into a modern oil-rich nation. There are a lot of "Arabian Nights" Days tropes associated with the parts of the country still living in the past.

    Video Games 
  • The Full Spectrum Warrior games use Zekistan, a Qurac setting for modern desert combat that lacks the real-world political aspects of Afghanistan or Iraq.
  • Call of Duty 4 uses a nameless Middle Eastern country taken over by a violent, nuclear-armed and militarily aggressive nationalist regime as the setting for the first third of the game. The actual location of the country isn't made clear, as the pre-mission satellite photos jump from areas along the Red Sea suggesting Yemen, to the interior of Iran to the epicenter of a nuclear bomb's explosion in Kuwait. It also doesn't help that the country is described as being small, which doesn't make sense if it stretches from the Red Sea to the River Euphrates. Some of the missions actually seem to take place near Mecca, judging from the map. Leftover bits of old data on the disc indicate that the Qurac was going to be Saudi Arabia. The final product seems to be a mix of Saudi Arabia and Syria, with the former's backstory as an American-aligned monarchy but the latter's stock of Soviet-era weaponry, close relationship to Russia, secular nationalist dictatorship, and ruling dynasty by the name of Assad. The Saudi government saw through this and were less than amused. Even the name of the enemy army, OpFor, offers no clues, as that's just short for Opposing Force.
    • The final mission of Modern Warfare 3 takes place in the "Arabian Peninsula", but is very obviously meant to be Dubai.
    • Averted in Modern Warfare 2 - a few missions are directly stated to take place in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan. Only one of them actually features you fighting against insurgents, though. The aforementioned OpFor returns as your opponents, and there are graffiti images of Al-Assad, so perhaps the country from the first game was Afghanistan. There's also a multiplayer map set in Karachi, Pakistan that has the Marines fighting said insurgents.
    • Also averted in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which has campaign levels directly stated to take place in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Socotra Island, Yemen. In the first, you fight with the insurgents against the invading Soviet army (the level is set in 1986), while the second has you infiltrating a compound owned by the Big Bad to gather intel and the third has you as a deep-cover operative in a terrorist cell and then a Navy SEAL, both of whom are trying to capture the Big Bad. There is also a multiplayer map set in Kyrgyzstan, but no campaign level to accompany it.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) plays this straight with the fictional wartorn country of Urzikstan, a thinly-disguised expy of Syria and Chechnya. Despite having the -stan suffix, it's an Arab country, which as noted above is unheard of in real life. What makes it even more bizarre is that, even though it is located in the Caucasus Mountains like Chechnya (so it should've been a temperate, mountainous forest country), the landscape is nothing but a sandy wasteland the likes of Syrian Desert. (Funnily enough, Syria has a region similar to Chechnya (mountains of Latakia), but Urzikstan - despite being located in the same mountain range as Chechnya - doesn't.)
  • The first Act of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots takes place in a war-torn desert country identified simply as "The Middle East". The "Moroccan Research Team" mentioned in the game's credits gives a clue as to which country this fictional place is based on.
  • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake takes place in Zanzibar Land located in Central Asia. No clue why it was named after a real island off the eastern coast of equatorial Africa instead of something ending in -stan. It also has a jungle in it, despite none of Central Asia having jungle (being a good distance north of the equator and consisting primarily of desert, grassland and mountain).
  • A.S.P. Air Strike Patrol \ Desert Fighter has you fighting in Zaraq, against the Zaraqis, in 1991, where the dictator bears an uncanny resemblance to a Middle Eastern leader captured and executed in 2003.
  • Not one but two Quracs feature in Strike Fighters, both as primary protagonist (USA-supported Dhimar—an Iraq) and antagonist (USSR-supported Paran—an Iran) states.
  • Since EarthBound is an Affectionate Parody of American culture, one of the towns is built entirely on the Hollywood view of the Middle East: Scaraba! Complete with Kebab, snake merchants, and a short walk to the pyramids.
  • The ARMA II expansion Operation Arrowhead has Takistan, a deliberate Culture Chop Suey version of this trope. The conflict starts similar to the First Gulf War — Takistan tries to invade its southern neighbour for oil and the US and NATO answer by invading them — than becomes like the Second Gulf War — government is disbanded and dictador executed, starting a insurgency of loyalists and islamists that coalition forces have to deal afterwards — and the general geography and culture is based after Afghanistan: a very hilly and mountainbous desert country, filled with small villages divided in semi-tribal and clan-based societies.
  • While all 3 countries of Neroimus in Chrome Hounds are Middle-Eastern, Sal Kar is definitely this trope.
  • Battlefield 2 has you fighting against the "Middle Eastern Coalition", or MEC. While they seem to be based on Iraq heavily, they are never actually called that. The US and China don't get this treatment.
    • The popular Battlefield 2 Game Mod Project Reality tweaks the MEC slightly to make it more of a Anonymous Ringer of Iran instead of Iraq. This is followed by its Spiritual Successor Squad, here called "Middle Eastern Alliance", where is used as stand-in for Iran, post-2003 Iraq and Syria.
    • Bad Company is even more blatant about the Iraq parallels, actually going so far as to have the MEC fly the Iraqi flag, as opposed to the made-up one from Battlefield 2.note 
    • Battlefield 3 bucks the trend, though, with campaign missions explicitly set in Iran and Iraq, and with the MEC nowhere in sight (though the bad guys fought in said countries are still fictional, having overthrown the Islamic Republic of Iran and taken over the country), and in multiplayer the fight is mostly against Russia.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals had a Central Asian country called Aldastan with heavy GLA presence. Since the names of cities are real, it implies that Aldastan was formed from the breakup of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan rather than being a fully fictional country. Considering how unstable some Central Asian Republics are (Tajikistan being near the top, just above Afghanistan), this example may turn Harsher in Hindsight in the near future.
  • The first mission of Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X takes place in a Middle-Eastern town with Arabic writing and scimitar-throwing goons. They do have deadly weapons, though, as seen by the stage boss (a Cool Plane in 2 and a large-walking robot in X).
  • The skyscraper in MADtv contains, among many other things, an embassy for the republic of Duban, where sits a stereotypical Arabian sunglasses-wearing bearded guy in a white robe. The country can advertise itself as a tourist/oil drilling spot on your TV, and its embassy eventually gets bombed by a terrorist.
  • The nations of North and South Azbaristan in JASF: Jane's Advanced Strike Fighters. The countries are named "Phrase-istan", North Azbaristan is a military dictatorship, the island they're on is mostly scrubby desert, and the voice-overs all have vaguely Arabic- or Persian-sounding accents.
  • The nation of Ul'dah in Final Fantasy XIV has the architecture, desert location, mercantile culture, harem girls, and ruling Sultan(a) of medieval Islamic trade centers, and is one of the two cities (the other being Ishgard) with notable scientific achievements.
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. has an odd sort of zig-zagging regarding an early campaign mission. The mission in question is explicitly noted to take place in Afghanistan, but the problem is it's actually one of their neighbors that's causing trouble, by harboring terrorists, and for some reason the game is extremely hesitant to actually state which neighbor these terrorists are taking refuge in, even as the mission involves you escorting a flight of bombers across the border to destroy their encampments.
  • Oracle of Tao has an actual land called Qurac (mainly as a result of the author's tendency to adopt tropes), which has sort of a Crystal Dragon Jesus version of Islam called Sakun. They wear temple robes, not hijab, and only inside the temple (which are very yellow and fluffy). Also, they eat pork and the women are allowed out in a bikini. They are desert traders, but this is pretty much the only similarity.
  • Tekken has featured two characters from the Middle East. One of them, Shaheen, is explicitly Saudi Arabian and an example of Shown Their Work, as he is a perfect representative of a Saudi man. This is because he was created with input from fans from the region. The other is Zafina, whose nationality is officially listed as unknown, even though she lives in a village located not too far away from Azazel's Temple, which is located in Egypt. She speaks American English, wears Stripperiffic clothing, and practices a weird fighting style inspired by Kalaripayattu, of all things. Supposedly, her nationality is kept under wraps to avoid ruffling the feathers of a certain Moral Guardians. The feathers were eventually ruffled, however; Zafina stopped wearing a Dangerously Short Skirt in Tag 2 and traded it with baggy pants (although her cleavage and midriff are still available for everyone to ogle).
  • Soul Series: Judging by his Arabic name and movelist, it is almost certain that Algol's kingdom was located in the Middle East. Exactly where is unclear, however. His biography describes him as a king who presided over a civilization completely lost in history. The world's earliest recorded civilization is Sumer, located in present-day Iraq. This would neatly fit with Zasalamel, who came from the same kingdom and possesses a scythe named Irkalla (the Sumerian underworld).
  • Adonis from Ensemble Stars! is a Foreign Exchange Student from an unnamed Arabian country; he never specifies, claiming that his Japanese classmates wouldn't have ever heard of it, which is a bit strange considering that he's always portrayed as caring very deeply about his home country and being very pleased whenever his friends show an interest in it. In the story 1001 Arabian Nights it's stated that said home country is wracked by war and turmoil, and this is why he, his sisters, and mother moved to Japan (his father, being an important figure of some kind, remains there). He also states that it's common there to fast, though he indicates that he currently doesn't (at least in part because it'd be unsafe given the amount of physical work he does), and his Trademark Favourite Food is the middle-eastern favourite kebab.
  • Far Cry 4 has Kyrat, a fictional Himalayan South Asian country based on Nepal and Bhutan which combines this with The Shangri-La, having the Tin-pot Dictator and his army, rampant militancy and misogyny of the type 2 and 3 variants, but a forested, mountainous landscape with monasteries.
  • 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand takes place in yet another unnamed Middle-Eastern country that the plot doesn't even bother naming it (however, the presence of a Napoleon statue implies it's either Egypt or Syria due to his expeditions in these lands). What we can tell for certain is that it's an war-torn hellhole with a barely stable infrastructure, not even able to pay the title protagonist when he goes to perform there. And it proceeds to get a lot worse when Fifty embarks on a destructive quest to retrieve a diamond-encrusted skull stolen by terrorists, wrecking the country even harder in his path.
  • Quest for Glory II is set in Shapeir, a desert country inspired by the Arabian Nights and similar myths.
  • Insurgency: Sandstorm takes place in a war-torn, Middle-Eastern, Arabic-speaking country with more than several parallels to the Syrian Civil War. Local female fighters and regular forces advised by American operators fight against insurgents employing Russian mercenaries and using chemical weapons. The reasons for the conflict are unclear and take place in a variety of environments from deserts to cities to snowy mountains to overgrown hydroelectric dams.


    Web Original 
  • Parodied in this article on Cracked, where they sarcastically mention "Madeupbullshitistan".
  • Combat operations in The Damn Few take place in or near The Damn FOB, Bumfuck, Iraqistan.
  • Haganistan is located somewhere around this region, but its Middle Eastern/South Asian/Central Asian features are not very apparent. It is a dictatorship, of course.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-1173, The Islamic Republic of Eastern Samothrace. Which is either an example of Eskimos Aren't Real that convinces you it's a example of Qurac, or an example of Qurac that convinces you that its an example of Eskimos Aren't Real.
    • To explain it without trope-speak, it is either a phenomenon that gives people false memories of a fictional country called Samothrace, or a phenomenon that makes people think Samothrace doesn't exist and it is meant to be ambiguous which side is correct.

    Western Animation 
  • Code Monkeys had Khakistan, whose population is 90% terrorists (according to text at the top of the screen), and the main export was khaki pants (which grow on cacti), and whose leader, King Huj Asman had kidnapped Dave and Todd (believing Todd to be Jerry) as to make games for the ImpalaVision consoles he stole to corner the market (as the US had pants subsidies, allowing The Gap to flood the market with cheap knockoffs, causing Kakhistan's economy to suffer). However, the Game-A-Vision staff manages to rescue them in time before the US bombs the hell out of the country (having thought that they had stolen the consoles to make a supercomputer that was capable of targeting the greatest infidel cities of the West; Dave had thought that too, only to have Asman to dismiss that as being "crazy" and then introduce his real plan). Also, they used to have magic and flying carpets, but the Jews somehow "stole their magic" (according to Asman).
  • The 1980 Dr. Seuss TV special Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? has Pontoffel visiting Casbahmopolis, a Middle Eastern sheikdom that resembles classical Arabia. He falls in love with a dancer in the employ of the sheik and comes to her rescue when she's locked in the palace tower.
  • Stewie and Brian once accidentally ended up in a version of Qurac in Family Guy.
  • Inspector Gadget featured several fictional Middle Eastern countries; Alpacastan (which, for some reason, is inhabited by llamas), Pianostan, etc.
  • M.K. 22's first episode gives us Tanjakistan, an ex-Soviet Central Asian republic and home of the Free Armenian National Tanjakistan Army - a rebel group that offers nuclear weapons for sale.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Magic Duel" has a nearly throw-away reference to a foreign land called Saddle Arabia. Nothing is really known about it apart from its name and it being a different country from Equestria, but two its ambassadors are briefly seen: they wear pony-clothing quite clearly inspired by the Arabian Nights aesthetic. Interestingly enough they are much taller and slenderer than Equestrian ponies: nearly as tall as Princess Celestia.
    • There's also Yakyakistan, a Turkic-esque country to the north of Equestria inhabited by sapient yaks that wear Mongol-style hats, have a culture heavily based on violence and brute strength, and communicate in Hulk Speak.
  • One episode of Sonic Underground featured Tashistan, a desert country with clear Middle Eastern architecture and a currency consisting of "dinars" and "rials" (which are both real currencies used in real Middle-Eastern countries). It's ruled by a Sultan, and this being Sonic Underground, it's a rather poverty-stricken place. At one point Sonic and Manic cross-dress as stereotypical Middle-Eastern dancers for infiltration.
  • The Transformers had the fictional state of Carbombya (Full Title: Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya) as a stand-in for then-newsworthy Libya. The country's main resources are oil and camels, its people frequently swear on the lives of their mother's livestock, and is ruled by a paranoid, egotistical dictator (whose similarities to Muammar Gaddafi are purely coincidental). The degree of racial/ethnic stereotyping in this case was so extreme that Lebanese-American voice actor Casey Kasem handed in his resignation, causing his most prominent character, Autobot computer Teletraan I, to be replaced by Frank Welker as the more advanced, visually identical, and different sounding Teletraan II.
    • The Movie (2007) was much nicer about it even though Qatar looks absolutely nothing like the dirt-choked slum shown in the film: Scorponok's attack was ended by a phone call to a nearby base from a little town in Qatar.
  • On The Venture Bros., the space station Gargantua-1 landed in "Iranistan". It crashed straight into a secret hideout where all the world's terrorist leaders were meeting.
  • The Young Justice version of Qurac is, surprisingly, not this trope, but apparently a fairly developed country with a democratically elected leader, and also apparently contains a savanna region that resembles Tanzania or Kenya (despite an in-universe map indicating that Qurac is Jordan and Bialya is Iraq). However, its neighbor Bialya, ruled by the Mind Controlling supervillainess Queen Bee, fits much better.
    • Even Bialya somewhat subverts the stereotypes associated with Qurac. It has a highly-advanced military whose firepower and organization threatens even a team of (admittedly young) superheroes.
    • They are apparently equipped with modern first-line U.S. army weaponry up to and including M1 tanks and Predator Drones armed with miniguns for some reason. That's not to mention that their queen is a woman who appears to be black rather than Arab/Middle Eastern and tends to dress rather stripperifically.

    Real Life 
  • In Tony Blair's memoirs, he recalls a visit to Pakistan where on the way from Islamabad Airport to the city he saw people on the embankment, men in white robes and veiled women. This despite the fact that there is 1) no embankment anywhere near the route, it is pretty much an expressway almost all the way, 2) that Pakistani men do not wear white "robes" like Arabs do (shalwar khameez on the other hand...) and Pakistani women do not usually wear a veil and especially not in the region where Islamabad is located (head-covering scarves, on the other hand...). They might not have been native Pakistanis but rather visitors from Saudi Arabia or Yemen, but it has been noted by the field of psychology that, dispositions notwithstanding, the brain is a very generous organ; when there is need, it will supply.
  • Following the 2010-2011 protests in Tunisia (resulting in the resignation of President Ben Ali and dissolution of the current administration), a specific interview had one protest leader quoted as demanding certain democratic ideals from the incoming government, most of all "...national dignity! We are not a Bananas [sic] Republic!"
  • During the Republican primary race in 2011, Herman Cain was asked a question about his knowledge of foreign policy; his joke answer included the country of "Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan" in reference to Uzbekistan, where Hillary Clinton was visiting at the time.
  • United States Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs at universities involve planning operations in an area that includes the edges of the Middle East and the Caucasus. Maps tend to show that the United States Army was not particularly creative in renaming the countries: the most creative was turning Azerbaijan into "Atropia" (and that was the only country that didn't have its capital city renamed or misspelled) and calling Turkey "Kemalia" (the man who is considered to be the father of the modern state of Turkey was named Mustafa Kemal); other than that, they don't go much further than rearranging the letters and adding or removing one or two letters.
    • Still doing better than the British Army's Land Warfare Centre, where operations are planned on maps of Salisbury Plain training area... titled "Wessexstan'', and where ground briefs always describe the prominent "Avon Wadi"...
  • In 2015, a prank poll in the United States asked voters if they supported bombing "Agrabah". 30% of Republican respondents and 19% of Democratic respondents said yes.

Alternative Title(s): Fictional Middle Eastern Country, Bialya


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