Skip to main content

Arabian Horses


The Arabian horse is a particular breed of horse that likely evolved during the prehistoric period from Central Asian regions, eventually finding its home in Arabia and Egypt, perhaps introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos.

The existence of the Arabian horse in early periods is indicated by inscriptions found on the walls of ancient Egyptian temples. Its type is evident in the concave head, refined features, and arched tail carriage.

The modern Arabian horse emerged from the Arabian Peninsula after the period of Islamic conquest in the seventh century. Arab tribes produced horses whose beauty evolved from traits acquired from life in an unforgiving desert: large eyes, strong bones, and great heart and lung capacity. These traits proved vital attributes in their use in military ventures and eventually in the founding of the modern English thoroughbred racehorse.

Arabian horse pedigrees were items of extreme importance to their Arab breeders. Oral transmission of a horse's history took place in front of witnesses who swore to its accuracy. The importance of Arabian horses held such high priority that they were used as gifts between tribal leaders, rulers of city-states, and later, heads of state, in diplomatic exchanges. Rulers such as Muhammad Ali of nineteenth-century Egypt sent expeditions into Arabia to acquire elite horses for his armies and his personal stables. Many travelers throughout the centuries noted the esteem in which Arabian horses were held.

Modern appreciation of the Arabian horse manifests itself in a worldwide network of Arabian horse breeders and owners who provide educational forums and exhibitions of their prized horses. They sometimes compete with one another in horse shows, or simply appreciate the unique heritage of their fine animals.


Bulliet, Richard W. The Camel and the Wheel. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

Lisa M. Lacy

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Arabian Horses." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . 20 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Arabian Horses." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . (March 20, 2019).

"Arabian Horses." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved March 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.