- For Arabs settled in Iran, see Iranian Arabs.
History and current situation
In pre-Islamic times, there were many Arabs who lived in the cultural sphere of Persia and who used Persian as their written language. These are referred to as Persian Arabs (in Arabic العرب الفرس al-?Arab al-furas).
After the rise of Islam and the Arab conquest of Persia, Persians in turn began to use Arabic as their written language. Many famous Arabic writers were ethnic Persians and others (e.g. Harun Al-Rashid) were of mixed ancestry
Arabs and Persians acted together in spreading Islam to new grounds and members of Muslim communities in e.g. China (see Hui Chinese, Uyghur people), India (see Ashraaf, Bihari Muslims, Indian Muslims)consider themselves to be descendants of Arabs or Persians or both (of traders, soldiers or religious figures). In other words, they have Persian Arab roots.
Among Muslims in South Asia, especially in Pakistan (see languages of Pakistan), both Arabic and Persian are considered as cultural languages and are appreciated and studied, even by those who do not considered themselves to be of Persian or Arab descent.
The term Persian Arab is rarely used as a self-appellation. Most tend to identify more strongly as either Persian or Arab and consider themselves to be members primarily of one ethnic group, but at the same time being aware of their mixed background. For many the most important factor determining their identity is the sovereign state in which they live or from which their recent ancestors came from.
In Arab countries
There are 500,000 Persian speakers in Iraq, 400,000 in UAE, 194,000 in Qatar, 177,000 in Bahrain and 118,000 in Kuwait.
Conversely, ethnic Arabs and Arabic speakers living primarily in the Khuzestan province of Iran. Most of them self-identify as Iranian Arabs, or Ahvazis,(see Ahvaz) and consider their mother tongue to be Arabic, though almost all are bilingual in Persian and many may have a better command of written Persian than written Arabic, since the medium of education at schools in Iran is Persian. Some Arabs (e.g. those of the Khamseh clans) even use Persian as first language.
Outside the Arab world and Iran
According to survey made in India in 2001, 51,728 Indians spoke Arabic as their mother tongue and 12,000 spoke Persian. In addition, there are many more who consider themselves to be of Persian/Arab descent. Some prefer ethnic labels that highlight Arab or Persian ancestry (see Muslim Mapilla). In Pakistan, there are estimated to be as many as 1,000 000 Persian speakers and 123 000 Arabic speakers.