He is a young carpet merchant living in the city of Zanzib. He spends much of his time constructing elaborate daydreams, in which he is secretly of noble birth, and fights the bandit Kabul Aqba, and lives in a magnificent palace.
His only friends are Jamal, who runs a nearby fried-squid stall, and Jamal's dog (which has repellant breath as a result of eating so much fried squid).
Abdullah's adventures begin one day when a mysterious visitor sells him a magic flying carpet, which results in him meeting and falling in love with the Princess Flower-in-the-Night, and subsequently having to rescue her when she is abducted by the Djinn Hasruel.
See also Castle in the Air (spoilers).