1. In Kuwait along the Kuwait/Iran border.
2. In Iraq along the Iraq/Iran border and especially in the city of Basra.
3. Three provinces along the Persian Gulf: Khuzestan, Bushehr, and Hormozgan.
Most Iranian Arabs live in the southern regions of Iran with the majority living in the southwestern province of Khuzestan while others live along the coast of the Persian Gulf.
History: 636-642 AD: The Arabs are believed to descend from Abraham's son Ishmael. Until the seventh century A.D., they lived almost entirely in the Arabian Peninsula. In that century, the "prophet" Mohammed founded the religion of Islam, and the Arabs began a process of conquest that would spread them, their language, and their culture across much of Africa and Asia. As they migrated, many Arabs settled in Persia. The Arab conquest changed the whole course of Iranian history. Islam, the religion of the conquerors, superseded the ancient Iranian faith, Zoroastrianism. Arabic, the language of the conquerors, replaced Iranian (Persian) as the administrative and cultural language of Iran for nearly five centuries.
1980-1988: During the Iraqi-Iranian War, Iranian Arabs sought to break away and create their own state. This desire manifested itself when Iranian Arabs stormed London’s Iranian embassy demanding autonomy for their southern region of Khuzestan (April 30, 1980). The Iranian government publicly denounced the take-over. The group, which claimed responsibility for the siege, the Arab Popular Movement in Arabistan, gave a number of press conferences in the following months, referring to what it described as "the racist rule of Khomeini". The British police eventually quelled the takeover.
May 2003: War: USA/IRAQ: Hundreds of Iranian Arab refugees were stranded at a desolate border crossing in Iraq living in makeshift huts made from crates, blankets and corrugated iron and waiting for permission to cross the frontier into Iran. Most of the refugees had lived in Iraq for more than two decades, since the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein, hundreds of Iranian Arab refugees were driven from their homes near the Iraqi city of Al-Kut by armed gangs of Iraqis who said the land belonged to them.
Languages: (Arabic dialects) Iranian Arabs have retained their Arabic language and many of their old customs, but they have lost some of their ethnological characteristics. There is no linguistic family relationship between Arabic and Persian, although Persian vocabulary has been heavily influenced by Arabic and is written in Arabic script.
Population: Between 1.5 and 2 million in the Gulf provinces of Iran (approximately 3% of Iranian population) and close to 500,000 in Iraq and Kuwait.
Lifestyle: Iranian Arab in urban areas may be employed as bureaucrats, technicians, and industrialists. In contrast, the Iranian Arab living in rural areas continue to practice a traditional lifestyle, resisting change in any form. Daily lives are governed by values and rules of conduct that are centuries old. Villagers are loyal to their communities, have high standards of hospitality, and tend to place great emphasis on family honor. They are mostly farmers and fishermen and many of those that live along the Persian Gulf coastal plains are pastoral nomads who keep herds of cattle, sheep, and camels. The Persian Gulf coastal provinces contain most of Iran's oil reserves so naturally many are employed in the agriculture and oil industries.
Who are the Sunnis?
Sunnis are Muslims who are considered the more "orthodox" believers. Sunnis follow all of the most traditional beliefs and actions.
Who are the Shi'ites?
The term Shi'a is a shortened form of Shi'at Ali, which means "the party of Ali" - and at the time of Ali's death in 661, that is probably all it was: a party or tendency of people who supported Ali's claims to the caliphate. Over time, they became the largest non-Sunni sect in Islam.
A Sect common among the Iranian Arabs: Alawis. The term Alawis actually just means "followers of Ali." Alawis is so far from traditional Islam that many Muslims do not recognize them as Islamic. For example they believe in an incarnation - the idea that God can be made flesh, for example in the case of Ali who is believed to have created Muhammad.
Status Of Christianity: Currently an accurate accounting of believers in the coastal provinces is unknown. As for the Scriptures, it is unclear whether Farsi or standard Gulf Arabic translations of Scripture are sufficient to reach Iranian Arabs. If another Arabic dialect is necessary the following statistics are revealing. There are no Scriptures available, no known recordings, no Jesus film or other forms of media. Only one mission agency works with the Arabs of Iran. The spiritual climate is closed to the gospel, though it appears the country at large is increasingly disillusioned with Islam and is open to an alternative. In spite of this increased level of receptivity, those who follow Jesus Christ will face moderate to severe persecution.