Bachelet talks of Persian Gulf instead of Arab Gulf in Doha

Hamad Bin Jalifa al Zani, the Emir of Quatar and host of the summit, pointed out the difference to the Chilean president following her speech.

31 de Marzo de 2009 | 13:08 | EFE

DOHA.- Lexical subtleties, which are essential at an international summit, especially in a region as sensitive as the Middle East, placed Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at the center of a brief controversy today with the host of the South American-Arab Nations Summit.

The Emir of Quatar, Hamad Bin Jalifa al Zani, took it upon himself to give President Bachelet a little geography "lesson" according to Arab standards after the Chilean head of state referred to the Persian Gulf.

Following Chilean president's speech, and before turning the floor over to the Brazilian President, Al Zani intervened to remind Bachelet in a kind-hearted manner that "we are in the Arab Gulf", which is what the Arab nations call the area, opting not to use the term "Persian", which refers to their neighboring country Iran (ancient Persia).

When the Brazilian president began to speak, the emir could still be heard as he approached Bachelet away from the microphone to tell her that there was no problem and that it was merely a slip of the tongue.

Both terms are accepted and, while it is more common to use the term "Persian", there exists a consensus among Arab nations to use the term "Arab".

Despite the slip-up, Al Zani publicly thanked Bachelet for her statements insisting upon the need to bring the two regions closer together.

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