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IRAN, SAUDI ARABIA: Islamic Solidarity Games in Tehran canceled over 'Persian Gulf' spat

Basketball ISG

It's an old semantic argument, but one that continues to raise hackles.

The Islamic Solidarity Games Federation, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has canceled this year's event, which was scheduled to be held in Tehran in April, because its Iranian counterpart refused to remove the phrase "Persian Gulf" from the event's promotional material and medals.

"Regrettably and without presenting any logical reasons, the [Islamic Solidarity Games Federation] committee decided not to hold the games with Iran as the host," the Iranian committee said on its website.

The committee in Riyadh, in turn, accused Iran of taking unilateral decisions "by writing some slogans" on the medals and pamphlets.

There was no indication the games' cancellation was related to Iran's recent political unrest or rising tensions over Saudi-Iranian interference in Yemen.

Created in 2005 to help bolster relations between Muslim countries, the games had already been pushed back from October 2009 to April 2010 amid conflicting reports of fears concerning swine flu and tensions about the words "Persian Gulf."

The debate between Arabian Peninsula countries and Iran over what to call the body of water that lies between them goes beyond cartography. Experts say it mirrors a regional power struggle that has raged for close to 50 years and continues to be played out in international bodies and on college campuses around the world.

Alternative names that have been proposed include "The Gulf," "The Arabo-Persian Gulf" and "The Islamic Gulf."

The Los Angeles Times and most American newspapers use "Persian Gulf" in accordance with long-established style guidelines.

Ironically, the news of the games' cancellation coincided with the launch of the 19th annual International Conference on the Persian Gulf in Tehran, which launched today with participants from 15 countries including Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon and Egypt.

The conference is aimed at "demonstrating Iran's potential and capabilities in resolving regional problems through cooperation with other regional countries" according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Basketball is one of the sports that was to be included in the Islamic Solidarity Federation Games. Credit: ISFG website.

Comments () | Archives (10)

That part of body of water is surely the Persian Gulf. The only reason why Arabs want to change the name is that they hate Persians and the word Persian. That's so funny, because when you are jealous of somebody, you act like this. Please Arabs for God's sake don't be a such a baby.


Iran is not occupying any Arab territory. Iran has owned those Islands for thousands of years. They also owned Bahrain too, but they allowed the Arabs to have it. If the Arabs insist on renaming geographical areas, then the Arabian Sea, should properly be called, the Persian Sea. I also enjoyed swimming in the Arvand River when I was young.

I managed to get a copy of the cancellation statement. It does not mention or refer to the problem of Persian or Arabian Gulf; but it seems that the media is just making business.
Remember that the Games were given to Iran in 2005.


dear sir, I am from Ahwaz, and we feel absolutely Persian. Who are you to talk about my city being arab?? instead of putting none sense as comments, you should study and get informed.
I see (in the comments below) that some people saying Persians are racists, and others saying arabs are racists. Well I don't think that either Persians nor arabs are racists. This is about arabs not accepting the fact that they are culturally, militerally and mentally weaker than Persians.
Just read the arab histroy, and read the Persian history. With all the respect to all my arab friends, but there is no such a thing as an arab culture.
Listen to arabic and listen to Persian. These two languages have strictly nothing in common, and sound diferent. arabic sounds agressive and hard, persian sounds gentle and soft. Dear arabs, just give up this stupid fight. Accept the facts and look in the eyes of the reality. You are inferior, and be sure, we will not attack you even if you accept your weakness. We are not like your fellow arab saddam hussein who attacked your other fellow arab country kuwait.... get your own problems solved first. help your fellow arabs in palestine, insead of trying (in vaine) to rename the Persian Gulf. You won't succeed....

By the way, I love the Arvand River :-)

Going back to my history studies...I remember many ancient maps (thousands of years old) from origins outside Persia, such as Greece, and even back then it was named as the Persian Gulf. The United Nations today calls it the Persian Gulf. So what is the problem?

They are Arabs, after all, I suppose.

to someine..what i see if that persians who are racist.
persians who are occupying the arabistan of ahwaz and occupying the 2 uae islands, and persians who try to change the history ,they already change more than 120 arabian citys and vilges names from arabian to persian names.
they change the shatt alarab "all the world maps use this name" to Aravand rever/

The arabs also insist on calling Persian Cat: "The Cat" or "The Islamic Cat" - Persian Rug: "The Rug" or "The Arabo-Persian Carpet". In the meantime they don't mention Gaza or Egypt's Wall.

I guess, since the Arabs cannot physically capture lands of their own, they have to resore to changing the established names of geographic as to feel they have some sense of ownership. The Persian Gulf was always, and will always be, the Persian Gulf. If Pakistan wanted to rename the Indian ocean, the Pakistani Ocean...would this be right? If France wanted to rename the body of water separating it from England, the French channel, would anyone take them seriously?

They should call it the Gulf of Jackals.

The Arab countries do not like the body of the water to be called Persian Gulf because they are racist. Why do they not try and rename the Indian Ocean? Or the Red Sea? Because those do not trigger the racism that exists in the Arab governments against Persians. To call it anything other than the historical name Persian Gulf would be to suppose racist attitudes and behavior. The Arab countries need to clean up their act and stop being so discriminatory and stop trying to Arabize the world because they will fail in this ambition of theirs.


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