The Empty Quarter I work in is a partial development of the Arab Muslim regions of the world today, in 2015: complete with strong Islamist currents, lots of violence and fanaticism, and an intense cultural conservatism.
But Traveller is a product of the 1970s: and at the time, the Arab states were a good deal more Socialist than Islamic. They were definitely on the conservative side, but not much more conservative than the Spanish or Italian cultures of the 1950s, or the American or French cultures of the 1920s. A different part of the same mental universe, not an entire alternate dimension.
A striking view of the past can be seen in these photos of Afghanistan of the 1950s-60s.
(Or, for that matter, Osama bin Laden in the 1970s). It’s rather obvious that something really bad happened in the Arab world between then and the 1990s. It would be interesting to investigate, and dig out what really happened.In any case, I will continue to portray the Empty Quarter with a modern slant: the past is a different country, and really understanding what a “Classic Traveller, 1970s-style Empty Quarter” is impossible at this point in time. But the door to a different take on the Empty Quarter is there, if you choose to open it.