The term "Saracen" has a disputed etymology, and historically has meant different things; most relevant here is the medieval European exonym for Arabs. The first significant Saracen kingdoms were the Ghassanids and Lakhmids, which were proxy states of the Byzantine and Persian Empires, respectively. In the 7th century, starting with the rise of Islam and the campaigns of the Rashidun Caliphate, the Saracens became a dominant power in Western Asia and North Africa.
Under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, the Saracens expanded their territory immensely. In that time, they presided over the largest empire ever to exist - larger than Rome, and unmatched until the Mongol invasions. In Saladin's campaign, they represent medieval Egypt, specifically the Ayyubid Sultanate. Their in-game design thus seems like an amalgamation of various Arab groups from different time periods.
Situated in the crossroads of the world, they were most notable for initiating the rise of Islam and starting the Arab conquests. To reflect their achievement as a powerful desert civilization and for founding one of the major religions of the world, their unique technologies benefit their Monks and camel units. They also gave importance to their navy to protect their shores from Byzantine assault, which is reflected with their naval bonus which gives their Galleys a higher firing rate and also gives them the best Transport Ships with more hit points and a bigger carry capacity.
The Saracens were also active traders being located at the crossroads of the world. As a result, their Markets are cheaper, and their commodity trading fee is only 5% as opposed to 30% (the standard fee for all other civilizations).
The Saracens are classified as a cavalry and naval civilization. Their cavalry is indeed excellent despite missing even the Cavalier, because they get all other upgrades and a very threatening unique unit from that branch: the Mameluke. On the sea, they get excellent Galleons that fire faster. Their Transport Ships get usable boosts as well, though it must be noted that the Fast Fire Ship and Shipwright are missing. Their foot troops on land do not leave much to be desired. Their archers get every single upgrade, and only the Halberdier lacks in the infantry department. Also, all gunpowder units are at the Saracens' disposal. Overall, the siege weapons are strong as they lack only the Heavy Scorpion and so are their Monks which get every single upgrade which is very rare. Madrasah furthers the Monks' effectiveness as it, in the long run, effectively makes Monks cheaper. The defensive structures are rather average, and so is their economy, although the greatly reduced commodity trading fee can be a great asset when going for a rush or in the very late game.
In-game, Saracen units speak Arabic. The Arabic language is - unlike most languages - not unisex, so there are two titles for each assignment assigned to a Villager, a title for the male and a different title for the female.
Na'am نعم - Yes
Salam سلام - Hello
Amron امرٌ - Orders?
Mosta'edon مستعدٌ / mosta'edaton مستعدةٌ - Ready
Saheeh صحيح - True
Hassanan حسناً - Okay
Sa af'al سأفعل - I will do it
Hattabon حطاب / hattabaton حطابةٌ - Woodcutter
Bahithon aan el taam باحثٌ عن الطَََعامِ / bahithaton aan el taam باحثةٌ عن الطعام - Searcher for food
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Saracen AI characters:
Al-Mu'tasim: The eighth Abbasid caliph, ruling from 833 to his death in 842.
Atabeg Zangi: A Oghuz Turkish atabeg who ruled Mosul, Aleppo, Hama, and Edessa. He was the namesake of the Zengid dynasty.
Baibars: The fourth Sultan of Egypt in the Mamluk Bahri dynasty. He was one of the commanders of the Egyptian forces that inflicted a defeat on the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France. He also led the vanguard of the Egyptian army at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, which marked the first substantial defeat of the Mongol army and is considered a turning point in history.
Caliph Abu Bekr: A senior companion (Sahabi) and—through his daughter Aisha—the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632 to 634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death.
General Khalid: Khalid ibn al-Walid, a companion of Muhammad. He is noted for his military tactics and prowess, commanding the forces of Medina under Muhammad and the forces of his immediate successors of the Rashidun Caliphate, Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Khattab.
General Shirkuh: A Kurdish military commander, and uncle of Saladin. His military and diplomatic efforts in Egypt were a key factor in establishing the Ayyubid family in that country.
Kala'un: The seventh Bahri Mamluk sultan; he ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1290.
Kerboga: Atabeg of Mosul during the First Crusade and was renowned as a soldier. In 1095 he served under the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustazhir in his attempted reconquest of Aleppo.
Nur-ed-din: A member of the Oghuz Turkish Zengid dynasty which ruled the Syrian province of the Seljuk Empire. He reigned from 1146 to 1174.
Saladin: The first sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. A Sunni Muslim of Kurdish ethnicity, Saladin led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusader states in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, the Hejaz, Yemen and other parts of North Africa.