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I read a fantasy (?) series 25+ years ago, and it has strangely been on my mind. It took place on a desert-like world not unlike the Middle East. Language was similar too.

Main character was a young man that mind-melded with a very large cat (reminds me of Avatar's character with the flying creature). He rode on his back. This image was on the cover.

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I suspect you are talking about the Gandalara Cycle; see if these looks familiar. Gandalara Book Collections

  • It took place on a desert-like world not unlike the middle east.
    Yep; although the details of where it was are a significant spoiler. (Not exactly a world, but 'their world', such that it is, is a desert.)

  • Language was similar too.
    Not addressed that much, but it is mentioned. Rikardon's name, for example, is an example of foreshadowing, once you understand it's meaning.

  • Main character was a young man that mind-melded with a very large cat.
    Right near the start of the first book, Rikardon encounters Keeshah, the Sha'um (kind of resembles a sabre-toothed tiger) who he is surprised to discover he is mentally bonded to. The nature of this bond is a major element of parts of the story.

  • He rode on his back. This imagine was on the cover.
    In fact, it's his main method of travelling. It occurs on the attached cover of the first collection (above), but also on the covers of many of the single books. (example below) enter image description here

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  • AWESOME!!!! Thats it!!! Now I must try and read it again. I might not like it as much as I am decades older!
    – Selena
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 1:25

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