The collection of Arabian and Persian folk tales that forms The Thousand and One Nights dates back to around the 9th century. They are framed within the story of Scheherazade, the new wife of King Shahryar. The King, deciding all women are unfaithful, has formed the habit of marrying virgins only to have them executed the morning after the wedding. Scheherazade manages to delay this fate for 1001 nights by telling the King such a compelling story each night - withholding its cliffhanger ending - that he must keep her alive another day to find out how it turns out.
The most famous characters include Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba.