Web wrangle: Persian or Arabian Gulf?

Photo published on the Facebook group Arabian Gulf for ever.

Should one call the strip of water separating Iran from the Arabian peninsula the "Persian Gulf" or the "Arabian Gulf"? 307,000 people have already voted in favour of the former on an Internet site. But this hasn't stopped a politically sensitive and highly contentious war of words.

The website started an online poll on the two names a few weeks ago and has already gathered more than 434,000 votes. The result right now is overwhelmingly in favour of "Persian Gulf" (more than 307,000 votes against approximately 127,000 for the Arabian Gulf).

Screengrab from www.persianorarabiangulf.com, the site organising the poll.

This tiff over terminology isn't new. In June 2004, National Geographic magazine provoked Iranian anger when, in the 8th edition of its prestigious world atlas it printed under "Persian Gulf" the second name "Arabian Gulf", in parentheses and in small letters. The Iranian authorities then banned the magazine and its journalists from the country.

In June 2006, it was The Economist's turn. The magazine was banned in Iran because it left out "Persian" labelling it just "The Gulf".

The other side is equally vindictive. In January 2010, The Riyadh-based Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation had to cancel a planned event in April in Iran because the medals to be distributed by the Iranian organisers would have carried the name "Persian Gulf".

The Iranians reacted rapidly to this affront. Last February, the Iranian authorities announced that all airlines not using the term "Persian Gulf" would not have the right to enter their airspace.

Then in the beginning of May they closed the Egyptian pavilion of the International book fair in Tehran because one of the books mentioned the "Arabian Gulf".

The dispute reached a crescendo when in the same month, the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council declared that calling this body of water "Persian Gulf" "mocked history", because "Arab presence in this region goes back 3,000 years, while Persian presence dates only to the Safavid empire (1501–1736 AD)".

The medal that caused the cancellation of the sport event in Iran. "Persian Gulf" circled in red. Photo published here.

"For Iranians, changing the name of this gulf is a crime against the nation"

Reza Amani Nassab is a businessman living in Iran.

This gulf has always been known as the Persian Gulf. So I don't understand why the Arabs now insist on calling it differently. Would you find it acceptable if the Pakistanis decided to change the name of the Indian Ocean because Pakistan is no longer a part of India?

This debate really irritates Iranians. For them, changing the name of this gulf is a crime against the nation. They're equally angry against their own government for failing to impose itself in this affair. Iranians think that the Arabs are profiting today from the weakness of the Iranian regime on the international scene to defy, with the West, Ahmadinejad's regime. It's also a way for them to support the UAE against Iran on the three Iranian islands [ED: the three disputed islands of Abu Musa and the Lesser and Greater Tunbs]".

Iranian parody. Photo posted on Facebook by Dokhtar Irani.

Why should so many Arab countries bordering the gulf make concessions for one sole state?

Motaz is a management graduate. He lives in Irbid, in the north of Jordan, and is a member of the "Arabian Gulf" Facebook group.

Ever since we were little children, we called this the "Arabian Gulf". We learned it in school and in geography books. There's no reason to change its name.

Why should so many Arab countries bordering the gulf (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates) make concessions for one sole state? Iran's desire to change the name of the gulf is a flagrant violation of Arab sovereignty".

French map from 1667 with the term "Arabian bosom". Photo published on the Facebook page Arabian Gulf For Ever.

"From a historical point of view, it has been called the Persian Gulf since Alexander the Great"

Abdel Khaleq Al-Janabi is a Saudi history scholar.

From a scientific and historical point of view, it has been called the Persian Gulf since Alexander the Great. [It has also had other names, such as the 'sea of the south' and the 'sea of Bassora']. It's this name that has been retained by history books and Arab historians, like Ibn Khaldoun and Ibn al-Athir. It's also in treaties signed between the governors of the gulf and the British who dominated the region from the beginning of the 20th century.

Things didn't change until Nasser came to power and the rise of Arab nationalism. The Arabs then began to use the name "Arabian Gulf" - even though in the beginning of Nasser's mandate, a popular slogan went: 'One sole nation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf'.

It's true that the name of this gulf still stirs a lively argument. But, as a history scholar, I can't support nationalistic slogans. To say, like some Arabs, that the Romans already called it the 'Arabian Gulf' is without foundation. Only the Greek historian Strabon, in the 1st century AD, had used the term 'Arabian Gulf' while talking about the strip of water that we today call the the Red Sea".

World map from 1565 mentioning "Persian Gulf". Photo published on persiangulfonline.


it is not real probs

the arabs wants to make history for themselves.thier civilization only back to 100 years ago(max).we can understand thier feeling.it is not our fault.lets think about mid-east future and real problems which all of us face with.

haha,the arabs !! all the

haha,the arabs !! all the arabs want things of this world to be arab even in the Heaven ( if it exist) they say that the language is arabic ,after arabising persian and berbers scientisits( Avicenne,averoes..;etc) and even north Africa( where poeples are berbers) now they want even change the names of places .
sucking arabs!!

Persian GUlf

It's always Persian Gulf ................................................

kuwait, bahrain, and UAE all

kuwait, bahrain, and UAE all departed from Iran, and once all of this arab countries was called PERSIAN.

It is extremely funny that I see arabs mock some maps to prove it was arabian gulf, but I should tell this history fraudulent that when you prophet Muhammad raised there was only 17 person in all of the arab lands who could read. who have MADE this maps? and for whom?

they once claimed for Arvand rud to change its name to shatolarab but they failed by strong documents available. I think west support for changing Persian Gulf to arabian one is to put Iran under pressure as it was always the same.

I don't think there is

I don't think there is support in the West for renaming it to the "Arabian Gulf", I think these publications are probably just trying to avoid controversy but it has been taken by the Iranians as taking the other side. I think almost everyone in the West knows it as the "Persian Gulf", in fact I only heard about this dispute quite recently, I've always known it as the Persian Gulf and support it remaining so. Also this man who claims the Iranians were only in the region from the 16th century must be a rather deluded individual, when everyone knows the Persians are amongst the oldest civilizations in existence.

What about Arabo-Persian

What about Arabo-Persian Gulf ? (Golfe arabo-persique)


A more fitting name might be "high-tension gulf". But this battle over the name would be so mellowed in our politically correct west - perhaps "body of water fouled by man, honoring Babylon" or equally stupid.

This is all so funny. Don't

This is all so funny. Don't you all think that we already have enough problems in the world to be fussing on a name???? I mean call it the Persian Gulf, or the Arabian Gulf or whatever, is it gonna make any difference?? Will it change its geography or anything?

always was,is and will be

always was,is and will be persian gulf,[deleted]