Google has -perhaps unknowingly- launched a new war in Gulf. The internet giant sparked a conflict with the Iranians last week when it dropped the name “Persian Gulf” from the body of water that separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.When a country is so emotionally invested in how people name an adjacent body of water to the point of creating an international incident every time someone uses a different name, it is not exactly an indication of a mature and reliable member of the family of nations.
The waterway also touches Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain – the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that call it the “Arabian Gulf.”
Google also declined to call it “Arabian Gulf,” or even “the Gulf,” saying it would hurt their credibility and creditability.
The company instead decided, perhaps as the biggest landmark on its maps, to leave the 250,000 square kilometers (97, 000 square miles) body of water nameless .
Iran, previously known as Persia, did not approve of Google‘s decision and didn’t hesitate in launching a verbal attack.
In an interview the Islamic Republic’s official news agency Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Bahman Dorri said “Google fabricating lies... will not have any outcome but for its users to lose trust in the data the company provides.”
“The enemies cannot hide facts and evidence about the Persian Gulf,” Dorri said. “Documents in the U.N. and the UNESCO show the name of this body of water has always been ‘Persian Gulf’ since a long time ago.”
“The efforts of the (global) arrogance and its Arab allies to remove the name of the Persian Gulf will result in its name becoming more durable,” he added in a reference to the United States.
The controversy over the name of the Gulf goes back to the 1960s and has entangled everyone from the Asian Games to the Unites States Navy to National Geographic Magazine.
Today, the United Nations refers to it as the “Persian Gulf”, as does the UK and the U.S., although the U.S. Navy, which has extensive dealings with Arab Gulf states, mostly uses ‘Arabian Gulf.’
In 2004, National Geographic published a world atlas that, while acknowledging the waterway’s primary name as the “Persian Gulf” added “Arabian Gulf” in brackets. Tehran responded by banning the American-owned magazine and its reporters from Iran.
Here's the funny part: If you do a search of "Persian Gulf" in Google Maps, you do end up inside the Gulf. If you type in "Arabian Gulf" you will not, and Google would guess that you are referring to various Arab companies with that name.