It’s the Arabian Gulf – and that’s that

Khalaf Al Habtoor; 26/8/09

The gentle water that laps off the shores of the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq and Iran has become a source of contention. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but it certainly irks most people in this part of the world when outsiders invariably refer to the Arabian Gulf as the Persian Gulf. Those of us who grew up here swam in the Arabian Gulf as children and were told that the big ships we could see in the distance were sailing through the Arabian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. And, today, most tourists who flock here from every corner of the globe do not consider themselves visitors to the Persian Gulf. It may be true that pre-1960s maps and treaties made reference to this body of water as the Persian Gulf in the same way that many ancient European maps referred to the Red Sea as Sinus Arabicus or Arabian Gulf. But let’s fast forward to the 21st century. Today, there are several reasons why the international community and its cartographers should officially recognise ‘Arabian Gulf’.The first is obvious. Persia hasn’t existed since 1935 and, therefore, does not appear on modern maps.