Agrabah, “a city of mystery, of enchantment, and the finest merchandise this side of the River Jordan”, is the city in Arabia where Aladdin is from, according to the Disney film “Aladdin” (1992).
The city was completely made up by Disney: Google Maps has no Agrabah. Nor does the book that gave us Aladdin, “1,001 Nights”: its Aladdin comes from China (probably East Turkestan, aka Xinjiang).
- Time: 1600s?
- Place: Arabia, in the middle of the Seven Deserts.
- Population: est. 500,000.
- Government: sultanate.
- Language: American English, spoken with American, British and East Indian accents.
- Religion: Islam, but belief in magic is also common.
- Education: the Royal Academy.
- Culture: Stereotypical Hollywood Arab, with a marked Indian influence in architecture, accents and street entertainment.
- Fashion: Women mostly dress like belly dancers. Men wear turbans, fezzes, robes and moustaches.
- Food: fresh fish (in the middle of seven deserts!), bananas, apples, pineapples, melons, pears, grapes, sugar dates, figs, pistachios.
- Livestock: sheep.
- Transport: horse, elephant, camel, magic carpet.
- Weaponry: large swords, no air power.
- Pets: parrots, monkeys, tigers.
- Level of civilization: barbaric (according to the opening song).
The city is probably named after Agra, India: the palace of Agrabah looks like Agra’s famous mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.
Agrabah is ruled by a sultan, who lives in a huge palace. His daughter Jasmine, though, is far more famous: she is a Disney princess. Her story, image and dolls are pumped out across the earth from Hollywood.
The city of Agrabah stretches out before the palace, violent and poor. Its marketplace, the Bazaar, sells overpriced, cheaply made goods brought across the Seven Deserts by camel.
Nearby in the desert is the Cave of Wonders. It is shaped like a tiger’s head. It contains riches and magical objects, like a flying carpet and a magic oil lamp. Only a person whose “worth lies far within”, a “diamond in the rough”, can hope to enter the cave and live.
Stereotypes: Arabs are shown as being cruel, violent, greedy, dishonest, using others for their own advantage. Good characters look or sound more like White Americans.
Agrabah and US foreign policy: Neither CNN nor the New York Times have reported any threats to US interests coming from Agrabah nor anyone fleeing the city. Despite that:
- Bombing: in December 2015, Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that 30% of Republican primary voters and 19% of Democrats support bombing Agrabah. It was opposed by 13% of Republicans and 36% of Democrats.
- Refugees: A week later, WPA Research reported that 44% of Democrats were in favour of the US accepting refugees from Agrabah, while 27% were opposed.
That same PPP poll found that 36% of Republican primary voters believe that “thousands of Arabs in New Jersey cheered when the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11.” Like Agrabah, that too is made up, though it is repeated by Donald Trump as the truth.
Among Republicans who support the bombing of Agrabah, less than half, only 45%, are for Trump.
– Abagond, 2015.
- Donald Trump
- Arab world
- East Turkestan