The Middle East is a geopolitical region that includes several areas and countries, like Arabia, Iraq, Asia Minor, and Egypt.
These places have a special place in anime because they offer the ideal setting for many historical series due to their arid and dry climate.
Arabia is one of the most common examples because it’s the most famous and generic region when describing the Middle East. Ancient Persia is another example of over-popular settings in fiction.
This listicle shows the best anime set in the Middle East and why you should watch them. How we rank is based on our opinions and knowledge.
Table of Contents
16. Reign: The Conqueror
An animated series that retells and adapts into animated form nothing less than the story of Alexander the Great, the great conqueror.
We will see in a very fictionalized key his real-life conquests, which, as those in the know will know, reach as far as the Middle East and northern India.
A nice way to see history in a different and more playful key. Definitely not the best anime out there, it can be worthy only if you are a sucker for Alexander the Great and you want to laugh.
15. Alibaba and the Forty Thieves
And did you know that Tori Animation worked on a movie about Alibaba and the Forty Thieves with none other than Miyazaki among the animation team? Incredible but true, these are the premises of this movie, dating back to 1971.
Sovereign Ali Baba one day finds a magic lamp from which a genie emerges who promises to grant him every wish. The genie, however, is afraid of cats and every time he sees one he loses his powers.
Thus an order will be issued to drive all cats out of the kingdom, but this decision will be strongly opposed by Aluk.
As you may have guessed nothing too serious, but it is still a very enjoyable film that is easy to watch. The setting at this time is not defined, but it’s for sure in the Middle East, presumably in Persia.
Iconic manga, which has received two different adaptations, one via movie in 1998 and one via a 6-episode mini-series this same year, in 2022.
The Spriggans are an elite group of fighters from Arcam, a Japanese multinational corporation that since its founding has been responsible for researching these artifacts and, if necessary, sealing them.
The protagonist is one of them, Yu Ominae, a high schooler with natural fighting skills further enhanced by his armor.
Spriggan is set in Turkey, in the very recognizable and characteristic Middle Eastern leaning part.
An underrated anime that is also worth watching because of its short length and speed with which events are narrated.
The scenario presented by Charlotte is that of a world in which a small percentage of the teenage population can develop special powers. Among them is Yuu Otosaka, a high school student, who keeps his mind-control power hidden.
A viewing of only 13 episodes released in 2015, which will fly by and make you wish it would last longer.
We cannot go into specifics this time, as the context of the Middle East is linked to a huge spoiler, which would ruin your viewing.
Suffice it to say that during the finale, for reasons we will not explain, the protagonist will embark on a journey around the world, which includes precisely the Middle East.
A war-fantasy show with exotic atmospheres and names, released in 2017 in 24 episodes, that we consider one of the best anime set in the middle ages.
Mahmut is a young councilor under the orders of the general of Türkiye, a fictional Middle-East setting (different from Turkey) where the air of war is thickening due to the menace of the Balt-Rhein Empire.
But Mahmut will do what he can to prevent a conflict from breaking out in the country, which would bring death and destruction.
An interesting change of perspective from the other names on the list, showing us the war from the eyes of an advisor who wants to stop it before it even starts.
11. Arabian Nights: Sinbad’s Adventures
A very old film, dating back to 1962, but it is pure adventure and brings with it wonderful Middle Eastern settings, done really well, including character design.
A young sailor named Simbad and his sidekick Ali find a map of a treasure and hide aboard a ship in an attempt to get their hands on it.
The setting then we dare you not to recognize: it’s very similar to Aladdin, the Disney movie.
10. Desert Knight
Desert Knight is a short web movie born from a, shall we say, very unique collaboration. We are talking about the union between the Gainax studio, the father of Evangelion, and animators from the United Arab Emirates.
It features an ambitious young man who decides to challenge the tyranny of bandits in his country to rebuild a country based on love and peace.
It’s set in the Arabian Peninsula, and is obviously very recognizable, by desert, exotic settings, and human figures with designs and costumes that harken back to the place enormously.
9. The Journey (Movie)
The movie was recently released in 2021, born out of a collaboration between Toei Animation and UAE.
It’s set in Mecca, one of the most famous cities in the Middle East and an icon of the Islamic religion. It features a war in which the fate of the city depends on being fought by multiple factions.
Being set in a place like this, there will be no shortage of iconic local sites, such as of course the Ka Ba, the black block where Islamic believers go to pray.
Yugo is a seinen manga of the late 1990s that is quite famous but still passed fairly under the radar compared to its other peers of the time.
Yugo is a professional negotiator and a true legend in his field. His client this time is a girl whose father has been taken hostage by an anti-government guerrilla group in Pakistan. It will be Yugo’s job to conduct negotiations with the kidnappers, hoping for the best possible outcome.
The setting of Pakistan with very apt designs will help tense things up, making the tension of the moments come alive, hoping the negotiations end well.
7. 1001 Nights
1001 Nights is a difficult product to place in anything, almost more definable as a true experimental project, and let’s be clear: it’s not for everyone.
At the head of the project, we see Yoshitaka Amano (Vampire Hunter D), who collaborates with Western artists and illustrators and relies on none other than the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra for the music.
1001 Nights is a dreamlike, almost psychedelic vision that gives us a little bit of a spoken introduction, just to let us know what we are seeing, and then is a continuous whirlwind of images, colors, and shapes.
The setting as you may have guessed is the Middle East, based on One Thousand and One Nights. A real visual experience is a must-try.
6. Doraemon Dorabian Nights
One of the Doraemon movies, which certainly needs no introduction, was released in 1991.
Thanks to one of his gadgets, Doraemon experiences with Nobita, and his friends a journey through the fairy tales of The Arabian Nights.
However, for fun, they modify the book to change the story and due to an accident, Shizuka ends up getting lost in the desert.
By now it is a guarantee, that if we talk about Arabian Nights we already know that it will feature a beautiful and faithful Middle Eastern setting.
5. The Heroic Legend of Arslan
An underrated war-themed and political anime with an exquisitely compelling fantasy world as its backdrop. We are talking about The Heroic Legend of Arslan, a 2015 anime based on a shonen manga.
In the prosperous kingdom of Pars, the fictional Middle East-like setting, resides the capital city of Ecbatana, a brilliant city ruled by King Andragoras.
Arslan is the young prince of Pars, but he does not seem to have the qualities to be a respected king like his father because of the bad figure he made during his first battle.
He will thus embark on a journey suitable for his redemption, gathering faithful followers on his path to protect his kingdom from the menace of the Lusitania.
A compelling anime that tells war from a new point of view, which is not that of the warriors fighting it but of a prince who just has to redeem himself to become a warrior.
You will hardly fail to end up sympathizing with his crusade and not feeling like a comrade of his in turn.
4. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
A Magi is a magician whose inclination toward magic is so immense that it can be said to shape the world.
Each Magi chooses a worthy candidate to become a king, then helps them conquer strange labyrinths called Dungeons.
Above all else, the Magi supervises their elected representative as they build a country that might one day bring the world to its knees.
The main character, Aladdin, is one of these Magi, and he will choose to protect Alibaba, a young and talented boy. Thus begins their adventure.
Magi draws inspiration from the classical collection of folk tales One Thousand and One Nights. This is visible from the setting, a stupendous Middle Eastern fictional setting based on Israel, highly exotic and fantasy.
3. One Piece
Everyone is familiar with the adventures of Luffy and his crew and if you’re not, then don’t wait any further and start this incredible adventure.
One of the work’s many story arcs as fans will know is set in Alabasta, a fictional realm inspired by the Middle East. We think it’s one of the most valuable arcs in the whole story because of Nico Robin and the villain Crocodile, an ex-member of the Seven Warlords.
From the villain devil fruit to the actual climate, Alabasta represents one of the best representations of desert settings, customs, and traditions.
As the story progresses, Alabasta gets even more important so we use this opportunity to recommend you to catch up, if you haven’t yet.
2. Mobile Suit Gundam 00
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is largely dependent on the Middle East for its plot.
Among the iconic episodes of the series, we will visit many places and one of them is the Middle East, in multiple fictional settings that we will see from episode 5 onward.
What’s interesting is that we will see a reference to Azadistan, a state that existed for only 3 months, in 1920. The country is located between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
This state will play a crucial role in the plot, as proved by princess Marina Ismail, tasked with improving international relationships with other countries.
Azadistan had an economic crisis with the advent of solar energy, which caused diplomatic problems with neighboring countries, leading to war.
The protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei has also ties to the area because he was a child soldier in the past.
1. JoJo’s Bizzare Adventures: Stardust Crusaders
The Bizarre Adventures of JoJo started as a shonen manga written by Hirohiko Araki in 1987 and the anime adaptation is still ongoing with the 6th arc.
Each arc has a separate protagonist, although there are some main characters that appear in more than one. The plot revolves around the adventures experienced by the various members of the Joestar family over time, with a protagonist on each side.
And one of the most famous and emblazoned parts of the anime, if not the most, is Stardust Crusaders, starring the equally iconic Jotaro.
And anyone who knows, this part consists of a journey to the Middle East, from Japan to Egypt, more precisely to El Cairo, to defeat DIO. We reminder the readers that Egypt is part of this geopolitical region too.
From the scorching sun to the hot climate, Jotaro and his friends will have a lot of problems during their journey. We think that Stardust Crusaders deserve the first place because it’s one of the most iconic and complete journeys we see in the Middle East.
The big issue is the pacing, as the entire story is built around facing a different opponent every 2 episodes.