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Home arrow Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf

a Little of History (Story)...



Persian Gulf (in Persian: Khalije Fars) is a sea with a romantic name and history, situated in the South of Iran.

It is lined in the South by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, on the West Kuwait and Iraq. He communicates in the East with Oman and by the strait of Ormuz in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.

It acquired for the last century and the discovery of the oil a leading strategic and geopolitical role. During all its history nevertheless this sea was a place of exchanges enters is it and the West of the East in competition with the Red Sea or the Arabian Gulf.

From a historic point of view and in a funny way it is necessary to note indeed, that the sea or the Arabian Gulf indicated the Red Sea which gives access to what was regions the most populated with Arabia, Hedjaz and Yemen.

Persian Gulf pulls its name of Persia (the other naming of Iran) and cover a surface of 233 000 km2 with a maximal very surprising depth of 100 m and on average 50 m.

The name of this gulf is, in a political and surprising way for some years a subject of controversies. Indeed, since the antiquity and on all the maps of the world, including Arabic, this sea was alternately noted Limen Persikos of the Greeks, Sine Persicus of Latins, Bahr al Farsi of the medieval Arabic geographers.

It is only the 20th century when in support of English and their Arabic interests and especially since 1970 when Saudi Arabia, followed by the other Arabic states, that the Persian Gulf was indicated by " the Gulf " or " the gulf Arabo-Persique " according to the situations.

Provocation or simple will to assert itself as an ethnic entity this new naming was nevertheless rejected by United Nations by an editorial directive of 18/08/1994 (94-33224 E) which draws the attention on this point and asks a particular attention to note indeed on all the maps the term of Persian Gulf unambiguously.

Historically the Greeks give its name in "Persian Gulf". Previously, Suméro-Babyloniens named him the " Lower Sea ", the " Bitter Sea " or "Mer du Soleil levant".

At the Second century AD, the Greek geographer Ptolémée mentions a city named Catara on its map of Arab countries. The Roman period is marked by the commercial decline of the Gulf for the benefit of Red Sea. It is necessary to wait for the dominion of the region by the Empire Sassanide from III to the VIth century AD so that Gulf becomes again the Mecca of exchanges.

In 13th century, the Mongols establish their influence there. A seaway, taken by Marco Polo, connects him it with China.

In 16th century the Persian Gulf is controlled by Portugal, in the summit of its glory, which seizes the strait of Ormuz, Bahrain and Masqat and in 1517 of Qatar (ruins and fortresses testify of it). Iran Safavide will dislodge Portuguese and the Ottomans will settle down in Qatar in 1538.

In 19th century the English people become established under pretext there to fightthe piracy and keep the control until the second world war and the creation of United Arab Emirates. Kuwait as for him is a British protectorate since 1899 and will obtain its independence only in 1961, but Iraq will not have then recognized its borders.






A little of economy



The economy is strictly connected with the exchanges. From the business of Pearls to the business of oil some years passed by.
Pearls left the place for Oil. The business fast left the place with the conflicts of interests and with the strategic zone more and more desired as much by the West as by Soviet Union in its time by the Russians, the United States, the European and the bordering countries nowadays.

But what happened?

A few pearls first of all...

The pearls of Persian Gulf are known since about 2700 years. We do not find their tracks in the papers but in the sculptures and the coins. The beds of oysters perlières of Persian Gulf are indisputably the oldest and the most mattering never known. There is no place in the world for equivalent development of high quality perlières oysters. They live in little deep and especially warm waters and also with sources of fresh water on the open sea. It is practically certain that the the oldest necklace always in existence comes from Antique Persia of the grave of a queen and dating about 2400 years. It is known as the necklace of Susa and possesses three rows(ranks) of 72 pearls each. it roses with serving bars of entretoise such as made in the ancient time.

A lot of oil then...

The oil springs in Persia

(Ref: History and geopolitics of the oil in the gulf by Philippe Conrad, Historian, Director of seminar to the School for joint task forces of Defence).


From 1872, the shah of Persia gave up to the baron Julius von Reuter the concession of oil-fields to be discovered on his territory, but it is not the descendant of the founder of one of the most famous news agencies of the world which had to associate its name with the exploitation of the Persian oil. Renegiciated in 1889, the concession was finally invalidated ten years later. At this moment, the French archaeologist Jacques de Morgan and the geologist Édouard Corte returned in Europe having acquired the certainty that the Iranian basement sheltered important oil reserves. Their projects lived without continuation but their conviction encouraged the Canadian William Knox d' Arcy to negotiate in May, 1901 the granting of a new concession, spread to the whole Persian territory, to the exception however regions of North with His powerfull russioan Empire neighbour. D' Arcy did not still deserve his nickname of " father of the Middle-Eastern oil " but his companies interested excessively Foreign Office and, from 1906, a small British contingent was spread in Persia to protect the concession of d' Arcy Exploration. The First Lord of the Sea, the admiral Fisher, was indeed convinced that the fuel oil was going to substitute itself for the coal on the buildings of Royal Navy and the development of the German influence in Turkey - which risked to end in the appearance of a ground road towards India - had of what to worry seriously the government of London.

From 1892, England had signed a treaty of protectorate with the sheik of Bahrain and, in 1899, with that of Koweit. This agreement was confirmed on July 29th, 1913 when the Ottoman government recognized the protectorate of England on the small emirate. The sovereign of the Koweit made a commitment, on the next October 27th, to grant possible oil concessions only to the " nominees by the British government. Meanwhile, the oil had sprung in Persia on May 26th, 1908, to Masjid el Suleiman, on the Iranian bank of the Gulf, at feet of mountains Zagros. Less than year later, Bakhtiari Oil Company and First Exploration Company of D'Arcy got with the Burmah Oil Company to base, on April 14th, 1909, Anglo-Persian Oil Company ( APOC) called to become in 1935 Anglo-Iranian Oil Company ( AIOC) to be transformed finally, in 1954, in British Petroleum BP.

The importance of the Persian production quickly pulled the construction of the refinery of Abadan and, in May, 1914, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, made grant to the British government 51 % of the APOC. This intervention of the State, foreign to the British tradition, aroused some bustles in the Municipalities(Communes) which approved nevertheless the decision of the government by 254 votes against 18. England - which had known how to, in 1875, buy the actions which possessed the khedive of Egypt in the Company of the Suez Canal - did not intend to let to the others the opportunityto take the control of the oil resources so promising of the Middle East. His government was all the more encouraged to be inspired by the fact that had been the attitude of Disraëli forty years earlier than redoubtable competitors could come to dispute him(her) the dominant position from which it benefited in the region of the Gulf.

The agreement signed in 1907 with Russia about the distribution of the respective spheres of influence of both empires in Afghanistan and in Persia allowed to contain the Russian push towards the Indian Ocean but he went away quite otherwise Germanic companies. From 1888 till 1903, the Germans had patiently negotiated with the Ottoman government the concession of the railroad of Bagdad and the article 22 of the obtained agreement stipulated that the Germans could exploit(run) the resources of the basement on a distance of twenty kilometres on both sides of the railroad. The agreement so concluded concerned among others the wilayets of Mossoul and Bagdad where severe indications let glimpse the presence of oil in abundance. The Germans were not the only ones to be interested in the region and, at the beginning of 1908, the American Colby Chester had been granted a research concession concerning almost all the area of the Ottoman territory. These interventions worried England and one of the foremost bankers of the City, Sir Ernest Cassel, was sent in Constantinople to defend the British interests there and arouse the creation of an English-Ottoman bank susceptible to counter the German companies. Sir Ernest was accompanied with Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, an Armenian businessman of Ottoman nationality. This character, worn-out to all the forms of commercial negotiations, had taken charge of the fusion realized in 1907 between the Dutch oil company Royal Dutch d' Henry Deterding and the Shell de Marcus Samuel transport company. Hostile to the Americans, Gulbenkian claimed, in this business, to federate the European interests. The revolution " Turkish young person " of 1908 came just in time to serve its intentions.

This little deep salty sea in the grip of the wars and of the greeds rest another magnificent place for the fauna and the flora. Little known by the foreigners, by the Iranian and Arabic themselves it is a sea in the unsuspected resources of beauty and landscapes. Tortured by recent conflicts (War Iran Iraq 1980/1988 - invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 and intervention of a coalition in 1991-invasion of Iraq by the USA in 2003) Persian Gulf deserves an international rehabilitation and a serene pondering as all the seas of the world, no more and no less.


Dr. A.AFDJEI