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In DC comics Ra's al Ghul is often said to be Arabic but in the DC Database page and in Batman: Birth of the Demon he is said to be Egyptian or just generally in North Africa. Where is he from and what race is he?

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    I sure don't think u can expect clear designation of ethnicity in a comic book or if so whether the depiction would be authentic. One reason is they want to avoid potential controversy. Maybe comics are getting more sophisticated but years ago, movies/tv etc. had people speaking gibberish if they actually were supposed to be speaking in a foreign language. And of course it was years before they bothered to get actors of even aprox. the right background. The Good Earth had whites playing main chinese chars and 50 years later Joel Grey played a Korean! (Remo Williams)
    – releseabe
    Apr 17, 2023 at 8:19
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    Who says that he is not both? Egypt is an Arabic-speaking country that was a founding member of the Arab League, which was actually founded in its capital.
    – Adamant
    Apr 17, 2023 at 8:25
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    Well, if the comics say that he is Arab, they don't necessarily mean that he was from Saudi Arabia. There may not be anything to resolve there.
    – Adamant
    Apr 17, 2023 at 9:00
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    @Bats: "Arabian" is an ethnic signifier, "Egyptian" is both an ethnic and a national identifier. Circa 600-700AD, the Arabs burst out of Arabia and conquered nearly all of the Middle East, Egypt, the rest of North Africa, and parts of Spain. Ethnic identity is still relatively well preserved, so people identify as Arab vs Coptic vs Persian, etc. Someone can certainly be an Arab from Egypt. Conversely, in English, "Arab" would almost never mean "from Saudi Arabia", except in the broader sense that all Arabs originate from the Arabian peninsula back in history.
    – Shamshiel
    Apr 17, 2023 at 9:49
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    @Bats given that the word "Arab" in English does not mean "a person from the country of Saudi Arabia" and isn't used that way (the term for someone from that country is "Saudi") is your question still relevant?
    – terdon
    Apr 17, 2023 at 19:06

1 Answer 1

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It depends on what you mean.

  1. He is racially Chinese as he was born to a group of Chinese Nomads
  2. The location of his birth is described as eastern North Africa (which for most people is called Egypt). Also, Arabic is the official language of Egypt.
  3. The name Ra's al Ghul is in the Arabic language, which isn't surprising as the Arab world consists of Northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. It is worth noting that Ra's al Ghul didn't adopt this name until later in life. Which is probably enough to justify a culturally Arabic consideration.
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  • Why did they make him the descendent of Chinese nomads, though? A Chinese family in 1500s Egypt already seems fairly unlikely, but at least one could imagine some kind of merchant, whereas nomads, while they roam over a large area, rarely leave the fields where their animals can eat for a desert over 6000 kilometers away.
    – Adamant
    Apr 17, 2023 at 16:12
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    @Adamant Comic book creators are notorious for historical inaccuracies. An origin with a rather unlikely nomadic tribe in order to give the character multiple cultures with which to draw mystic traditions, probably doesn't even warrant the question of "is this reasonable?".
    – Mathaddict
    Apr 17, 2023 at 17:57
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    To extend @Mathaddict's point, if comic books were to take the route of what is statistically most likely, as opposed to things that are statistically rare; you'd end up with a significantly blander and more boring story. Ra's origin story is definitely fairly unique, but by no means impossible.
    – Flater
    Apr 18, 2023 at 1:42
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    @Flater - I mean, it's certainly not impossible compared to a flying alien with eye beams who also coincidentally looks exactly like a human being, granted. But it also suggests that the writers might not be too familiar with real-world history, and as the previous comment suggests, they may well simply have done it to make his character more mystical/exotic/Other, or simply have forgotten one origin story and then had to scramble to reconcile them.
    – Adamant
    Apr 18, 2023 at 20:12
  • I think whether the writers know that they are engaging in alternate history by having nomadic Chinese tribes in Egypt makes a difference, too. I read a book once where the author had a protagonist whose mother's family was Carthaginian and whose love interest was from a unique bardic culture that had originated from West African and Irish refugees settling in some place relatively near the Arctic Circle, but they were explicit about the fantastical alternate history that had led to the continued existence of Carthage and the migrations to the Arctic area.
    – Adamant
    Apr 18, 2023 at 20:20

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