Historically and internationally known as the Persian Gulf, this body of water is sometimes controversially referred to as the Arabian Gulf or simply The Gulf by most Arab states, although neither of the latter two terms are recognized internationally. The name Gulf of Iran (Persian Gulf) is used by the International Hydrographic Organization.
This inland sea of some 251,000 km² is connected to the Gulf of Oman in the east by the Strait of Hormuz. Its western end is marked by the major river delta of the Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Its length is 989 kilometres, with Iran covering most of the northern coast and Saudi Arabia most of the southern coast. The Persian Gulf is about 56 kilometres wide at its narrowest, in the Strait of Hormuz. The waters are overall very shallow, with a maximum depth of 90 metres and an average depth of 50 metres. Countries with a coastline on the Persian Gulf are (clockwise, from the north): Iran, Oman (exclave of Musandam), United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar on a peninsula off the Saudi coast, Bahrain on an island, Kuwait and Iraq in the northwest. Various small islands lie within the Persian Gulf, some of which are the subject of territorial disputes between the states of the region.
At the Twenty-third session of the United Nations in March–April 2006, the name "Persian Gulf" was confirmed again as the legitimate and official term to be used by members of the United Nations.
Oil and Gas
The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the world's largest single source of crude oil and related industries dominate the region. Safaniya Oil Field, the world's largest offshore oilfield, is located in the Persian Gulf. Large gas finds have also been made with Qatar and Iran sharing a giant field across the territorial median line (North Field in the Qatari sector; South Pars Field in the Iranian sector). Using this gas, Qatar has built up a substantial liquified natural gas (LNG) and petrochemical industry.
In 2002, the Persian Gulf nations of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, produced about 25% of the world's oil, held nearly two-thirds of the world's crude oil reserves, and about 35% of the world natural gas reserves. The oil-rich countries (excluding Iraq) that have a coastline on the Persian Gulf are referred to as the Persian Gulf States. Iraq's egress to the gulf is narrow and easily blockaded consisting of the marshy river delta of the Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Uphrates and the Tigris rivers, where the east bank is held by Iran.