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Araby was an area in the Warhammer World based roughly on the medieval Middle East, or at least how the average brit imagines it. The Arabyans had scimitars and jezzail muskets and used them to fight back those Tomb King guys when they came about uninvited stirring shit up. Much like Kislev, they had an army all the way back in Warmaster, which included flying carpets and magicians who could summon djinni. Oh and they had Elephant Cavalry. Despite having a lot of potential when it came to introducing a new and unique faction with a slightly different tone to the usual semi-european setting, GeeDubs did, their favourite past time; nothing.
Araby’s most prominent appearance is little lore than a sidestory in Bretonnian history, serving as the impetus of their great crusade. Long story short, the evil vizier got tricked by the Skaven into believing that Estalia was going to invade. He launches a “pre-emptive” attack, crushing and enslaving Estalia as its virtually powerless to stop the invaders. Bretonnia, meanwhile, is deeply concerned by the horrific injustice happening right next door, and proceeds to beat the shit out of Araby all the way back to the desert until the Vizier is Killed and the once-proud nation is a shadow of its former self. Those who left home brought with them booty, others decided to vassalize some of the remaining city-states. And Araby has been the punching bag of both Bretonnia and the Tomb Kings ever since. Essentially an easy way for Bretonnia fans to enjoy their Deus Vult without having to worry about arguably being the baddies. If this was a good idea is debatable, though it would have made a pretty cool starter set for a new edition, introducing Araby in the process. Alas it would not come to pass, for such a deed would have required a bit of imagination, never one of GeeDubs strong suits.
This very original, never before seen storyline may or may not be because GeeDubs, being Brits, are still salty at having lost the crusades. Particularly the eighth and ninth, where an English king actually participated.
Araby also used to be part of the Nehekharan Empire and managed to largely avoid the Necromantic corruption that overtook the rest of the Empire, having been able to have staved off Nagash and Arkhan for nearly a 1000 years. This would arguably make them the only true successors of Nehekharan civilisation as a result. A more intelligent writer than those at GW would perhaps explore this avenue, perhaps depicting Arabyans reconquering some of the old Nehekharan cities from the Tomb Kings or dealing amicably with the more rationally minded undead, or perhaps clashing with Settra the Imperishable over who is the true inheritor of the greatness of the oldest human civilisation on the planet, but no, this apparently was too much to ask for.
Religion and culture
Arabyan religion has generally been left vague. Nothing at all to do with contemporary Islamic Extremism, since their beliefs and culture were vaguely described in the 90s when they were first introduced. It should be noted that Araby's inclusion in Bretonnian lore at that point was more due to a desire to satirise the then ongoing First Gulf War, meaning that they were intended as a parody of Saddam Hussein's secular Iraqi government, which at the time was attempting to invade Kuwait, rather than a typical West-vs-Islam screed (yes, this would essentially make Bretonnia George H.W. Bush's America). This has not stopped fans from theorising that they are a society of strict monotheists, however, based off of a line from the Old World Bestiary.
In a Gotrek & Felix novel, it was written by good ol' Bill King that a 'Prophet of Law' had arisen in Araby who was dedicated to destroying all influences of Chaos, and this entailed genociding all non-human races. A reference to a certain Abrahamic prophet.
Given the fact that they are descended from the Nehekharans, it's probably more logical to assume that they worship those gods.
Insofar as culture and society goes, Araby has been fairly indecisively written. The only thing that's completely clear regarding them is their consummate professionalism in matters of trade and economics. They vie with Cathay for overland spice trade routes that go through the Southlands, and have generally emerged better off from those confrontations than the Cathayans have. Some writers, like the great Rick Priestley, when he made an Arabyan armylist for Warmaster, described the Arabyans much akin to the Islamic World from the 8th - 16th centuries, i.e.: significantly ahead of the Old World insofar as medicine in particular and other scientific disciplines in general were concerned. Though they typically were behind insofar as adopting gunpowder was concerned however, but if you know anything about the efficacy of gunpowder in the middle ages, you'd also realise that this isn't particularly a mark of backwardness. On the other hand, Arabyans were also described as notorious slavers, who had contacts with Norscans (but then again, the Norscans sell slaves to the Kislevites also) and also had decadent, opulent courts. This disconnect was later justified by writers stating that the Arabyans were a disaggregated society ruled by many Emirs, Sheikhs, and Sultans, with some of them being Orientalist nightmares, while others were more or less competent rulers who governed their domains justly and with respect for the Arts and Sciences.
Because both GW designers and independent fan-writers are both neither as well-informed on historical matters as either thinks to be, most Arabyan armylists and lore, although ostensibly written to evoke the Arabs of the 7-9th centuries, actually ends up invoking the Ottoman Empire, which was Turkic (one of the Arabyan characters from a recent BL novel is called Mehmed Bey, 'Bey' being a Turkic title, with a Mongolian cognate, no less). This wouldn't be that great a problem, except for the fact that the Warhammer World already has several local equivalents to Turks and Tatars.
While interest in Araby as a faction is sadly middeling, there are some fan-made codexes out there, most of them centered around the expected middle eastern/north african fare. Historical miniatures like Victrix African War Elephant and Numidian Cavalry aswell as GBPs Arab cavalry sets should prove treasure troves for the aspiring collector of Araby. In the future there may be some hope for GeeDubs to revive Araby in their upcoming Warhammer: The Old World game,
though such a thing remains doubtful as they're not exactly easy to trademark Recently there was apparently a tweet by a Creative Assembly designer where he posted some Arabyan artwork ostensibly developed in-house by the Old World team which he promptly deleted. Given recent developments that Cathay will be a launch race both in Total War: Warhammer III and in Warhammer: The Old World, the possibility that Araby will once again see the light of the day has become more significant.
|Regions and Areas of the Warhammer World|
|Areas of The Old World:||The Empire of Man - Bretonnia - Albion - Estalia - Tilea - Kislev - Norsca - Border Princes - Worlds Edge Mountains - Karak Eight-Peaks|
|Areas of The New World:||Naggaroth - Lustria|
|Areas of The Eastern Lands:||Cathay - Nippon - Ogre Kingdoms - Dark Lands - Kingdoms of Ind - Khuresh - Eastern Steppes|
|Areas of The Southlands:||Nehekhara - Araby - Badlands - Marshes of Madness|
|Other Areas of the world:||Ulthuan - Athel Loren - Chaos Wastes - Skavenblight - Lost Isles of Elithis|
|Main bodies of Water:||The Great Ocean - The Far Sea - The Sea of Dread - Inner Sea of Ulthuan|