Al-Talib (literally "The Student") is a character in 80 Days. She is an inventor residing in the Middle East.
The mysterious al-Talib is the subject of much gossip around the middle east. A brilliant inventor, al-Talib was supposedly once a favourite of the ruling tribe in Riyadh. But when an enemy tribe threatened to start a war in order to claim al-Talib's inventors, she simply packed up and retreated into seclusion to avoid bloodshed. She supposedly fled to Rub' al-Khali, and often coupled with these rumours are stories of a strange pyramid near the city that glows at night with electricity.
She is widely mistaken to be male.
Al-Talib is mentioned throughout Passepartout and Fogg's journey in the middle east, and they can decide to seek out the reclusive inventor with a difficult journey into the desert. Upon arriving in Rub' al-Khali, Passepartout is surprised to learn that al-Talib is actually a woman. She is hostile towards Passepartout and Fogg, hoping to keep her latest invention safe from her enemies, but will allow them to use it with some convincing.
Al-Talib is extremely independent and dislikes the company of people who don't appease her strict ideals and creativity as an inventor. She is a lover of peace, refusing to take part in brewing war. She is also well-known for her intelligence and amazing inventions.
- Meg Jayanth has mentioned in interviews that she purposefully put women in positions of power and respect that they wouldn't necessarily have been able to have during the time period, if only because she felt that it belonged in the fantasy setting. Al-Talib is likely an example of this, being a revered inventor in a time where it would be difficult to garner respect as a woman.