Persian Gulf National Day Widely Celebrated in Iran
Persian Gulf, located in the Middle East, is an extension of the Gulf of Oman located between Iran (former Persia) and the Arabian Peninsula. Iran, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar on a peninsula off the Saudi coast, Bahrain on an island, Kuwait and Iraq in the northwest are the countries who share the coastline of the Persian Gulf.
The oil-rich countries (except for Iraq) that have a coastline on the Persian Gulf are referred to as the Persian Gulf States. The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the world's largest single source of crude oil and related industries dominate the region. The natural environment of the Persian Gulf is very rich with good fishing grounds, extensive coral reefs and pearl oysters in abundance, but it is increasingly under pressure due to heavy industrialization and in particular the repeated major oil spillages associated with various recent wars fought in the region.
Based on historical documents, Iranians were the first navigators of the Persian Gulf. According to Herodotus, the Greek historian, it was Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king, who issued the order for investigation of waterways from estuary of Sind River to the Persian Gulf, and from this sea to Suez Canal and finally Africa.
Due to the strategic location of the Persian Gulf and since it has been surrounded by several Arabian countries, there have been disputes between Iran and its Arab neighbors about the name of the Persian Gulf, and Arabs are willing to call it the Arabian Gulf or just Gulf! However, based on several strong historical documents, such as Ferdowsi poems and historical maps, Persian Gulf was named as such from the very beginning and no body of water named "Arabian Gulf" ever existed on earth!
Starting from the earliest maps, the body of water was called "Persian Gulf" by European sources. Among the first Atlases in the world is that of Jean Baptiste Anville, 1751. This map of western Asia shows the body of water labeled as "Golfe Persique" meaning Persian Gulf.
Recently, a group of experts on geographical names was officially set up by the secretary-general of the United Nations in pursuance of the economic and social council resolution 715 A of 23 April 1959, and endorsed "Persian Gulf" as the official name of the body of water. Although Arabian countries still use the term Arabian Gulf or Gulf, the United Nations division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, uses only the term Persian Gulf in its legal documents. A decision by the State Department's Board of Geographical Names in 1917 makes the "Persian Gulf" the only acceptable label for that body of water.
As mentioned above, due to its strategic position, Persian Gulf was always the target of powers who wanted to take control over it during different periods of time.
After their arrival in the eastern seas and on route to India, Portuguese Empire, sacked Muscat in 1507 and soon controlled the entire coast. Portuguese navy invaded Iran through Persian Gulf in early 16th century and occupied the southern parts of the country especially Hormuz. But at last Iranians managed to overcome the Portuguese forces.
On 11th of July 2005, Iran's Cultural Revolution Council chaired by Seyed Mohammad Khatami, Iran's former president, announced 30th of April as Persian Gulf National Day in Iran, on the anniversary of Portuguese withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, to put an emphasize on Iran's historical and cultural background and in order to protect their identity and possession over the Persian Gulf.
As the first year this occasion is being celebrated, some special programs will be held in different parts of Iran including holding a bicycle race in Kish Island, flying kites, etc.
According to the public relations office of the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IDCYA), on this day children and young adults will fly kites on which mottos defending the everlasting name of the Persian Gulf are written. The participants are also busy making small boats. They will launch them in a pond designed in the shape of the Persian Gulf at the Tehran branch of the institute. The aim of the IDCYA is to evoke national emotions of Iranian children and young generation with their national heritage.
This is only part of the programs of the "Blue Heart" Festival which began in Tehran on April 24 and will continue to May 1. The festival which is held annually has a different theme each year. This year it concentrates on the issue of the Persian Gulf through an exhibition of paintings, calligraphy works, literary writings, and research works.
The First International Seminar of "Persian Gulf Studies, Culture and Civilization" will also be held with the cooperation of the Institute of Iranian culture and civilization studies and the department of history of Tehran University during October/November 2006 in Tehran. This seminar will provide an opportunity for the experts of history, geography, social and political sciences who will participate in this seminar from Asian, European, American, African and Pacific countries to discuss the culture and civilization of the Persian Gulf region.