Google Maps and the Persian Gulf

November 7th, 2012  |  Published in All Posts, Everything, Grafica 1, Graphica

The Persian Gulf has been called that for thousands of years, long before the Arab people gained power through Islam and conquered the whole area, including Iran. The Achaemenid King Darius, who ascended the throne in 521 BCE, calls it draya tya hačā pārsā aitiy  the sea that comes from Persia.
Iran has always maintained an independent identity, even under Islam: Our month names are names of Zoroastrian deities and entities, many people give their children Persian names like Jamshid, Ramin, Behrooz etc. And the Persian Gulf is part of our national pride.
In recent decades, the name suddenly became a matter of dispute. The Arabs, who for centuries called it “the Persian Gulf”, started in the 1950’s to mistakenly call it “the Arabian Gulf”. This was Gamal Abd ul Nasr’s idea, as part of pan-Arabism ideology. The problem is, others also adopt this wrong name. Not only is it historically wrong, it also deprives us Iranians of our rights over the Persian Gulf.
We Iranians are so proud of the name, that even in the 1980’s, when the Islamic revolution was young and the people relatively enthusiastic about Islam, a suggestion to call the Persian Gulf “the Islamic Gulf” was rejected on the spot by Iranians of all religious strata.
Earlier this year, Google Maps decided it “doesn’t take part” in this dispute. They don’t understand that there is no room for dispute at all. But they’ve made their decision. If you search “the Persian Gulf” on Google Maps (link), you get a point in the middle of the Persian Gulf, but the name is not written. If you search for “the Arab Gulf” or “the Arabian Gulf” (links), you get certain locations in the Emirates. So the search is still right, but it angered us that it removed the written names from the maps. How would you feel if your name was distorted?
I’ve made these three graphics in protest:

Google, how would you feel if we called your site by the name of your competitors?

Google, how would you feel if we called your site by the name of your competitors?

In this one I drew Google’s homepage with the brand name Yahoo!

The logo is a mix of Google and Yahoo graphic, the search field is classical Google, and you can see for yourself what I’m searching for…

The next one is inspired by the flag of Saudi Arabia:

Google, powered by Pan-Arabian oil.

Google, powered by Pan-Arabian oil.

Flag of Saudi Arabia

Arabian flag, public domain.

The green background, the sword and the Arabic vocalization marks, are taken from the Saudi flag. The writing on the flag of Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, is the most sacred sentence to Islam, called the Shihada. It reads: “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah”.

As you can see, mine is prettier than the Saudi one.


Al-jujil al-arabiyya

And today’s Doodle is dedicated to our beloved sponsors.

In this one the Arabic name reads “al-Jujil”. Google, how would you feel if your name was distorted and accepted like that?
Because this is actually surrender to pressure from the side of the Arabs, I picked Osama Bin Laden (who was still alive at the time) – as the “doodle”. In my eyes, he was, and still is, the emblem of Pan Arabism=terrorism, and in case it’s not clear enough – I’ve added the sponsorship statement.
This one became somewhat viral. I suddenly found it as Facebook cover photo of people I didn’t know. It made me very happy.
Google has returned the name, God bless them. However, searching for the “Arabian Gulf” brings you to the same place.

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