Arab vs. Persian

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Difference between Arab and Persian

People these days are often confused about the differences between the Persian and Arabic communities. Those unfamiliar will, at times, mistake the two as one. Amidst the conflicts in the middle-eastern countries, the North-African Arabs have always maintained close relations with Iran only because of the limited links between the two. The fact stands that both Persians and Arabs are mostly unrelated except for a few similarities. Language-wise, ‘Farsi,’ also referred to as Persian, is the official language of Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan, whereas Arabic is used by the people of North Africa, Middle-East, Egypt, Syria, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.


Persian and Arabic share the same script but are vastly different languages. Most Persians speak Farsi and do not speak Arabic. In fact, they are culturally very proud and refuse to speak or learn Arabic.

Arabic is spoken by the Arab league of countries and they pronounce the same script in very different ways. The two languages are easily discernible in that the intonations of Arabic are very clearly different from Farsi when spoken.


The relations between Arabian countries and Persian ones have been strained to say the least. At times there have been severe conflicts between the two communities and their countries but also there have been times when the two communities have been peaceful. There have also been problems with the Islamic revolution if Iran, after which their foreign relationships underwent a dramatic change. Some of the ambivalent Arab countries became friendlier towards Iran whilst others who were previously known as friendly reduced their support.


The Arab League’s capital is Cairo whereas Iran’s capital is Tehran. Since the Arab League is much larger, it covers an area of around 13.9 million sq. kilometres against the 1.6 million sq. kilometres area that Iran occupies. However, due to this difference Iran has a higher population density of 45/ against the 25/ of the Arab league.


Iran is governed by a form of theocracy and is an Islamic republic. Arab league countries are either governed by their own regional organizations and political unions. However, when Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran declared that the monarchy went completely against the teachings of Islam, many Arab leaders became hostile towards the country.


Iran’s population is about 98% Islam followers with the majority being Shi’a (90% of total population). The remaining 2% are religious minorities such as Christians, Zoroastrians, Yarsanis, Bahai’s and Mandeans. The Arab league has 90% Islamic followers followed by 5.8% Christians and 4% religious minorities.

Similarities and Differences

  • Even though Persians and Arabs have similarities in many aspects, they have been known to be extremely hostile towards each other. However, there have been times of peace as well.
  • The Farsi and the Arabic languages share the same script but have different pronunciations. Persians predominantly speak Farsi with a cultural pride making them actively stop from speaking Arabic.
  • Iran underwent an Islamic revolution and is now a republic but other Arab countries do not always support these ideals.


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