[OSM-talk] Persian/Arabian Gulf Tagging

Abdullah Abdulrhman abdullahOSM at outlook.com
Thu Jul 8 20:03:48 UTC 2021

- This is not a compromise solution, but a biased solution, and since you have not researched the truth about the use of the name on the ground and believe that it is political, I tell you that I am one of the Arab people around the Gulf and I do not represent any political party, and if you ask anyone in Saudi Arabia about the name he will answer you in the Arabic name In fact, he may not know the Persian name at all, and it is surprising that he is mentioned that name!

- You also mentioned some sources from Wikipedia that anyone can edit their pages, such as Open Street Maps, and depend on the opinion of the editor of that page, who may be biased, incorrect and exclude any other opinion and is supported by some editors and moderators, and this does not change the truth.

- Also, your mention of some documents and pages from the United Nations does not change anything in the matter that these documents represent the country from which that study was issued and do not impose the name on another country. For example, as people in Saudi Arabia, we still call Netherland by its old name Holland. This does not change the fact that its name is now Netherland. And when you put sources from the United Nations website, you only put what agrees with your opinion. There are dozens of documents that mentioned the Arabic name, so why did you not cite them:

Document from a representative of the Arab group:

-You also mentioned that the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf uses the Arabic name unofficially, and this is incorrect. Here is a document from the United Nations website proving that it is the official name used by them:
and you can see the Arabic name of gulf on the map on their website:

-You also mentioned that Qatar tends to the Persian name, and this is not true, as it uses the Arabic name officially, and you can check their official pages and many documents, some of which I sent in previous messages in this mailing list, and that you ignored them, this is strange because you say that you saw all the posts in this discussion ! And you did not provide evidence for that claim.

- You mentioned that we are a country in which there is no freedom and we do not have an opinion as ordinary people and this is different from the truth. Rather, we have freedom, and our Internet does not block websites that mention the Persian name or prevent a writer from writing a book that mentions the Persian name, although we use the Arabic name in a common and official way, and we unlike some countries that ban any book and block any website that mentions the Arabic name of the Gulf!, and you can see this response from a great geographer in Saudi Arabia and from the United Nations website:

-When you mention the "Exclusive economic zone", the Gulf falls within that region and has no international waters according to the map on Wikipedia:
Also, when you view the page:
And looking at the International waters agreements paragraph, you'll see that Exclusive Economic Zone surface has restrictions on national jurisdiction and sovereignty.

There were many opinions, and the discussion took a long time, and the compromise solution for the two parties is to put the names A/B in the name field and leave each language with its own name, and this is what happens for example, in a strait between France and the United Kingdom:
You can see that the name tag contained the two names: "Strait of Dover / Pas de Calais", although one of the names has more historical depth than the other, but they put the two common names for the place and neither side came and deleted the other name and imposed the name on the other language or He sabotaged the map of the other country!.

Abdullah Abdurhman

From: Bert -Araali- Van Opstal <bert.araali.afritastic at gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 8, 2021 5:09 PM
To: talk at openstreetmap.org <talk at openstreetmap.org>
Subject: Re: [OSM-talk] Persian/Arabian Gulf Tagging

Lot's of context and references were presented, different compromises and tagging schemes proposed. Those willing to form a non-biased rational opinion, the historical, political, cultural and religious motives behind the issue were able and given the opportunity to do so.

The term international waters is an informal term (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_waters) used to reference any waters outside the Territorial waters, Archipelagic waters, Contiguous zone and Exclusive economic zones (EEZs), in the UNCLOS III agreement mostly referred to as Continental plate and High seas. Although it's an informal term it is generally known. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Convention_on_the_Law_of_the_Sea , )
As you probably know, UNCLOS III is the International Convention on the Law of the Sea, ratified since 1994, by consensus and a large group of countries around the world.  Some countries have not ratified it but do acknowledge adherence and compliance to most of the contents in the treaty that apply here.

When it comes to "local use" of the term "Arabic Gulf" the verification which we can make is:
- the member states of the GCC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Cooperation_Council), all Arabic speaking countries, are the only verifiable authoritative or official resource sometimes using the term "Arabic Gulf" for these waters in non-official communication.
until now I couldn't find any official document that uses the term "Arabic Gulf", neither "Persian Gulf". The GCC member states are all constitutional or absolute monarchies. With all due respect, but one could question to what extend there opinion reflect the general opinion of their people or just the private interests of the monarchies. The GCC was established during the Iran - Iraq war and both their logo, the use of only Arabic on the logo and the use of "Gulf" in the name (not "Persian Gulf" and NOT "Arabian Gulf") reflects the main political motives as excluding and acting against Iran. This is publicly and internationally known and acknowledged, so it doesn't make sense to deny this. No one here makes a statement if this is justified, appropriate due to their policies or the policies practised by the Iranians.

- The majority of historical maps, even those in Arabic, refer to the waters as "Persian Gulf". "Arabic Gulf" was historically used by a few British during the colonial era and Arab countries part of the Arab Peninsula (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf_naming_dispute). So far I haven't found any maps or charts, neither current or historical established by international communities or authorities that use the name "Arabic Gulf". In the contrary, some historical maps exist where the Red Sea was named Arabian Gulf instead of the Persian Gulf, which adds only more confusion. On some historical Arabic maps, on display in Arabic countries of the GCC, "Persian" has been purposely removed from "Persian Gulf".

- No one denies the fact that "Arabian Gulf" is used by the GCC, the monarchies of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula or their supporters. This can justify the use "Arabian Gulf" in the alt_name OSM key or some local_name variants, as is already proposed by several OSM members here in respect to local use and local communities, being it minorities or majorities.

- To my knowledge no one has ever officially requested a name change in the international community, being it the UNGEGN (https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/statistics/standardization-of-geographical-names.html), the FAO or other UN organisations, to change the name from "Persian Gulf" to "Arabic Gulf" or use them side by side as official internationally recognised names. Some countries use the term "Gulf", as the USA does in a minority of instances. I don't make any conclusion anywhere for their motives but be aware that the USA is not the world community and is the most important party that has not ratified UNCLOS III.
- A personal observation: "Arabic Gulf" is mostly used by Sunni Muslims, it's different for Shia Muslims which make up a large group of local Arabic speaking people around the Gulf. Again, I don't make a conclusion here or take a political, cultural or religious point of view, it is an objective yet personal observation both from having visited multiple countries in the region, member states of the GCC and Iran.

- Argumentation that the majority, in numbers, of people around the Gulf are Arabic speaking and therefore support or use an official name "Arabic Gulf" is not supported by independent concrete studies, enquiries or surveys, thus should not belong in the OSM name field. Neither does the fact that the longest stretch of coastal line around the Gulf is occupied by Arabic speaking countries gives neither of the states a fundamental right to determine the official international name for the international waters.

When it comes to "official use" of the term "Persian Gulf":

- The majority of the international community, being it the UN (https://www.un.org/depts/los/LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/persian_gulf.htm, https://www.un.org/depts/los/nippon/unnff_programme_home/alumni/tokyo_alumni_presents_files/alum_tokyo_dehghani.pdf), FAO (http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/IRN/en), Nautical charts, Wikipedia etc... in most cases uses "Persian Gulf", which makes it justified as the ONLY name to be used with the OSM key:name.

- The Iranians did bring a comprehensive investigative historical report to the UNGEGN. Being it biased or not, complete or not, was not concluded in this UN group. Neither should we disrespect the extensive and professional work done by the scientists, no matter what nationality they have, unless you can come up with significant facts that prove the contrary and the courage to present and discuss it publicly, references and verification through reputed channels and in the UN.

- Despite the fact that Iran and some other states around the Gulf didn't ratify the UNCLOS III, Iran has made multiple bilateral agreements, with member states of the GCC, to resolve any territorial claims and rights (https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/LIS-25.pdf, https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20787/volume-787-I-11197-English.pdf, https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/qatar/qatar-iran-to-sign-key-agreements-1.577249). All literature and media about them use either "Persian Gulf" or "Gulf" or other internationally accepted names when it comes to the formulation of the agreements. In most cases, the treaties as signed by both parties, use British Admiralty Nautical Maps to illustrate the exact boundaries they agreed upon. British Admiralty Nautical Maps use the name "Persian Gulf" only.

- All admiralty charts that I found use "Persian Gulf" only (https://www.stanfords.co.uk/admiralty-chart-folio-40-persian-gulf_si00003832, https://www.marinechandlery.com/admiralty-chart-q6111-maritime-security-chart-persian-gulf-and-arabian-sea)

Opting for the A/B solution is in my opinion trying to force rendering. We don't tag or map for the renderer.  If there are renderers that display alt_name or local_name keys it's fine, the data is there.

Opting for "Arabian Gulf" in the name key is also forcing rendering. Those renderers that display only the name:language fields will be different in Arabic, which is not desired, neither for minorities or majorities in the world or local community. Searching for a similar term on a map in a different language will be confusing.

Opting to leave the name field empty, to ease the situation, even if just temporary, doesn't have my support. We don't do this for other disputed or conflict areas either and because of it's open and free character any user, even unaware of the issue or this discussion might change it in a blink as we maintain all other keys. This can incite the same vandalism and discussion again with the local communities, so we should resolve it.  Don't leave it empty. I also believe that as a community we can make a consensus instead of acting and avoiding it like Google (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-18108246), being disrespectful to any local community, being it Iranian or Arab.
I don't favour the local_name:country option as again these might incite the same issues.  As f.i. Qatar, having recently signed some bilateral agreements with Iran, might not want to be listed as such user or promoter of "Arabian Gulf". This could however work if both terms are used to reflect the use of both minorities as majorities.

So my proposal for the compromise remains:
name = Persian Gulf
alt_name = Arabian Gulf; Gulf; Gulf of Iran; Gulf of Basra (in any particular order, all same significant)
name:fa = Persian Gulf (translated and as common official term in Farsi);
alt_name:fa = Arabian Gulf; Gulf; Gulf of Iran; Gulf of Basra (translated and as common official term in Farsi, any particular order, all same significant)
name:ar = Persian Gulf (translated and as common official term in Arabic);
alt_name:ar = Arabian Gulf; Gulf; Gulf of Iran; Gulf of Basra (translated and as common official term in Farsi, any particular order, all same significant)
Any other name:language fields follow the same principle.


Bert Araali

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