Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Dr. Saad al-Ammar, Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, revealed that Apple’s adoption of the term “Persian Gulf” on its products and apps will be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of GCC foreign ministers which is scheduled to take place in the Bahraini capital Manama on Wednesday.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Dr. al-Ammar revealed that he expected the GCC ministers to refer this issue to a specialist committee who will prepare certain steps to solve this at the highest levels, including referring it to the United Nations.
Al-Ammar stressed that there are no divisions over this issue amongst the Arab world and Asian states regarding the name “Arabian Gulf” during discussions and deliberations. However Tehran continues to complain regarding the identification of this region, insisting that it be called the Persian Gulf, particularly in light of Iran’s occupation of three Emirati islands in this region.
Broad swathes of Apple users in the Arab world and Gulf are dissatisfied with Apple products and apps denoting this region as the “Persian Gulf”, particularly as Arabs make up two thirds of the Gulf region. Some Arabs have called for a boycott of Arab products until it changes this designation and identifies this region as the “Arabian”, rather than “Persian” Gulf, calling on their national governments to take legal steps in this regard.
The name of the body of water separating the Iranian plateau and the Arabian Peninsula has historically been subject to controversy. In June 2004, National Geographic magazine provoked Iranian anger when, in the 8th edition of its prestigious world atlas, it printed the term “Arabian Gulf” underneath that of “Persian Gulf.” The Iranian authorities banned the magazine and its journalists from the country.
In June 2006, The Economist magazine was banned in Iran for leaving out the term “Persian” and just labeling this body of water “The Gulf.”
In 2010, GCC Secretary General said using the name Persian Gulf “mocked history” because “Arab presence in the region goes back 3,000 years, while Persian presence dates onto the Safavid empire (1501 – 1736 AD).”