The Casbah (French) or as transliterated from Arabic Qasbah (from qasbah, قصبة, 'citadel') is specifically the citadel of Algiers and the traditional quarter clustered round it. More generally, kasbah denotes the walled citadel of many North African cities and towns. The word made its way into English from French in the late 19th century (the Oxford English Dictionary says 1895), hence its conventional English spelling. Etymologically rooted to Khaybar, an ancient city in present-day Saudi Arabia where the local Jewish population was famous for holding out against Mohammed's conversion of the area. Khaybar was famous for its fortress and in ancient Hebrew means "fortress". Khaybar then became the generator for the name Khyber Pass connoting toughness and a fortress-like environment.
In Rabat, since 1912 the capital of Morocco, the Casbah of the Oudaya is the military barracks encircled by walls with gates, built in the 16th and 17th centuries on ancient foundations.
The 1938 movie Algiers (a remake of the French film Pépé le Moko of the previous year) was most Americans' introduction to the picturesque alleys and souks of the Casbah. In 1948 a musical remake, Casbah, was released.
The aforementioned movie was spoofed in The Cats Bah, a Looney Tunes cartoon in 1954 starring Pepé Le Pew, himself a spoof of Pépé le Moko. The amorous skunk often uses the phrase "Come with me to zee Casbah" as one of his pickup lines.
In 1982 the British London-based punk rock group The Clash released the single "Rock the Casbah", which reached position #30 in the UK music charts. The following year the single was released in the US, reaching #8 in the charts. "Rock the Casbah" was also the first song played on the Armed Forces Radio during Operation Desert Shield. It became the unofficial anthem for the Armed Forces during the Gulf War conflicts.