Category: Internet Domain News

Even though Arabic language is booming and is one of the fastest-growing languages globally, it is still facing access challenges online.

In 2013, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) rolled out domain names in Arabic, Chinese, German, Russian and Cyrillic scripts.

When Russian and Chinese Top-Level Domain names have grown in leaps and bounds, Arabic domain names and country code top-level domain (ccTLD) of UAE (.emarat), Arabic equivalent of .AE domain extension, .Al Saudia for Saudia Arabia and .Misr for Egypt did not grow correspondingly and did not close the gap between the Arabic content and the Arabic user.

Top-Level Domains are letters after the final dot of a domain name like .com, .ae and .net while “.Shabaka” (in Arabic means .web) was the world’s first Arabic new Top-Level Domain (TLD).

Top industry experts said that the key reason is due to the lack of Arabic content online despite the growth in Arabic speaking population.

“The other reason is universal acceptance. Most of the e-commerce and online banking platforms accept emails in ASCII or Latin characters and does not recognise Arabic or Chinese email ID address. People go and register for domain names in Arabic but there is a limitation in how they could use the domain names because domain application of a domain name is email and if you want to use your email ID in your local language and if you are not able to do that, then it is a problem,” Baher Esmat, ICANN’s vice-president for stakeholder engagement in the Middle East, told TechRadar Middle East.

Despite great efforts from the ICANN and the domain managers in the countries to spread awareness on these domains, Munir Badr, Founder and CEO of AEServer, one of the accredited domain name registrars under the TRA for .ae, said that the general public and businesses, in general, prefer to use the common domain extensions in the English language as they are by far more popular, easy to type and use by everyone and in some cases cost less to register compared to the IDNs.

Esmat said that some Gulf Cooperation Council countries, apart from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia have a large Arabic-only speaking population and they use mostly Arabic language on their mobile phones and social media.

From an ICANN’s point of view, he said that the organisation’s role is to ensure that domain names work securely and stably.

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Internet penetration rate in Middle East

“When communities around the world ask ICANN to make domain names in different languages, ICANN has to respond to their needs. Whether the domain names are working or not is ICANN’s business or our responsibility,” Esmatsaid.

According to ICANN, the largest country-level domain names, in terms of registrations, are China and Russia.

“When we have millions of domain names in China and Russia, we have less than 1,000 TLDs in Arabic in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. This may change as our region is the fastest-growing region on internet usage globally,” he said.

According to Internet World Stats, the Middle East had a population of 258.37m as of April last year and out of this, 175.50m are internet users, which translates to 4% of the total internet users globally.

The internet penetration rate in the Middle East stands at 67.2%, higher than the rest of the world at 56.5% and higher than the global average of 56.8%.

According to Ethnologue, Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world in 2019 with 319m after Chinese, Spanish, English and Hindi.

Badr said the low usage is mainly due to lack of interest from the registrants.

“If we look at Dubai in general, the language of business is English and with a high ex-pat population, many of the business decision-makers are well aware of the domains and had prior experience by using a generic domain name such as .com or .net or country-level domains (ccTLD) so they will opt for a .ae name and a .com name as a bundle and both in Roman script,” he said.

On the other hand, he said that .ae is one of the best performing domains in the Mena region with over 230,000 domain names registered and is extremely popular within the UAE and it is also cost-effective and easy to register.

However, he said that there is lack of awareness and no big or well-known brands or government agencies are using such domains.

 

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The meeting of the Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD) and the Middle East DNS Forum (MEDNSF), organized by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and hosted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), were launched today at Media Rotana – Dubai The meeting gathers a group of experts, specialists, and stakeholders, who will discuss over two days the most important issues related to Internet domain names in terms of policies, privacy, security and others.

H.E. Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, TRA Director-General, said in the event opening speech: ‘Your meeting today derives its importance from the diversity of representation within the internet, telecom, digital media, entrepreneurship, intellectual property, and other sectors. Accordingly, we must focus on the importance of cooperation with the logic partnership to achieve our common goals of building a prosperous world based on the digital economy.’

H.E. Al Mansoori added: ‘We believe that the next phase burdens should not fall on one sector and not the other, but rather we should all work together as government, private sector, and individuals. As we rapidly enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution era, we see the urgent need for advanced infrastructure, legislation on data, the internet of things and others. Therefore, your meeting today is an important forum to discuss the prospects for the future, which we hope will bring good results for the people worldwide.’

Al Mansoori added: ‘TRA is hosting these two important events based on its commitment to supporting and sponsoring all activities and initiatives that serve the ICT sector. A group of top experts, interested and investors in the field of internet domains from Asia and the world will meet in Dubai to discuss the most important issues related to this sector, such as domain names and their protection as well as protection of personal information of users, and promotions of investment in domain names.’

Al Mansoori called on registrars, distributors, web hosting companies, Internet service providers, network operators, brand managers, digital marketers, entrepreneurs, and IP professionals to attend these two important activities: “Participants from across the Middle East and the world are leading the discussions, highlighting the most important investment opportunities in the field of domain names in Asia and the Middle East and exploring new ways to enhance the digital presence in the region. It is expected to come out with decisions and results that serve the field of Internet domains globally “.

The APTLD meeting, which is held twice a year, will address a range of issues related to domain names in Asia as well as activating investment in this field. The meeting will also discuss the impact of the EU General Data Protection Regulation on the sector, in addition to discussing the laws of international cyberspace, top-level domains (TLDs) and protection of trade names.

Moreover, the 6th Middle East DNS Forum will review the new policies of TLDs, which will allow new names. The forum will discuss in a separate session the universal acceptance of internationalized domain names, especially Arabic names, the challenges that face the use of Arabic domain names and email addresses, and ways to encourage their global acceptance across various platforms and applications.

The forum will also address domain names infrastructure, DNS security processes and protection. It will also provide an overview of the Domain Abuse Activity Reporting (DAAR) Project, which is a system for studying and reporting on domain name registration and security threat (domain abuse) behavior across top-level domain (TLD) registries and registrars.

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