thumb|150px|link=Aladdin is a 1992 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements and is based on the Arab folktale of Aladdin and the magic lamp from One Thousand and One Nights.
The Merchant is the Genie
This is the most widely accepted version of the theory. It describes how the merchant from the first scene is actually the genie in human form. This makes sense because Robin Williams voices both characters and the Merchant has the same lamp as the genie. Another variation of this same theory says the man made the entire story up just to sell the lamp.
In one scene of Disney's Aladdin, Genie calls Al's clothes "so last century". Genie was trapped in the lamp for 10,000 years, so there is no way he could have known about the fashion trends that could have happened whilst he was in the lamp. This means the latest Genie could have been trapped in the lamp during the third century. If he spent 10,000 years in the lamp, it is then at least 10,300 AD when he gets out.
Aladdin takes place in the future, or to be more exact, a post-apocalyptic world where only Arabic (and some Greek) survived. So much time has passed that the name "Arabia" has been corrupted into "Agrabah". The Islamic religion has atrophied to the point where there are no mosques, Imams or prayer mats, but people still give praise to Allah in moments of happiness. Amazing technological marvels left behind by the previous civilization, like flying carpets or genetically engineered parrots that can comprehend human speech instead of just mimicking it, are taken for granted by locals or considered “magic”. The Genie proves this by making impressions of ancient, long-dead celebrities such as Groucho Marx and Jack Nicholson.
Supporting this theory, the Aladdin genesis video game includes both a modern-day stop sign buried in the sand and a number of bones and skeletons. Additionally, the background of one level has what may appear to be an unexploded atomic bomb. (http://youtu.be/bfLyK_msMTY?t=9m17s)
Arguments Against This Theory
Because Genie is a genie, he is an omnipotent being with a different perception on time and reality, similar to a time lord from Doctor Who. Genie did not have to be alive back then to have infinite knowledge of a certain culture - rather, he is just making a quick joke. Some may argue "well why would he do that if Aladdin wouldn't get the jokes?" Leading theorists argue that Aladdin wouldn't have understood the jokes the Genie was referencing, but after 8000 years Aladdin would not even know who Groucho Marx was. Agrabah, magic and the Islamic religion could just as easily have evolved over thousands of years, instead of devolving. Lastly, Genie says "indoor plumbing is going to be huge", using future tense and showing that he knows what will happen in the future.
As the video game is not directly canon, it may not be that much of a support for this theory.