A uniquely Arabic top-level Internet domain set to launch in 2013 is expected to prompt a significant shift in the communication between brands and Web denizens in the Arabic-speaking world.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global regulator of Web addresses, today approved the launch of شبكة. (.shabaka, which translates to .web).
Moving away from non-Arabic Internet namespaces such as .com, .net and .org, the introduction of شبكة. will provide the Arabic speaking world with a uniquely Arabic-orientated corner of the Internet.
The launch of شبكة. is part of the new top-level domain programme that is being rolled out by ICANN and شبكة. became one of the first new domains, beating around 1900 other applicants globally.
Yasmin Omer, general manager of International Domain Registry, the Internet technology company behind شبكة., said she believes the new domain will become the centre of all things Arabic on the Internet.
“I expect شبكة. to be one of the biggest innovations in the Arab digital and online landscape in 2013. It is set to totally redefine the way businesses and users approach the Internet in the global Arabic speaking community,” Ms Omer said.
شبكة. will be the first cross-border Arabic domain extension open to all Arabic speakers across the world, reflective of Arabic culture and society. It will offer businesses and website registrants a targeted online channel to reach the entire Arabic-speaking community in their native language.
“شبكة. will be a game-changer for the Arabic community,” Omer said. “It will open a channel to intuitively connect Arabic speakers to Arabic content and provide an end-to-end Arabic online experience.
“There is enormous commercial potential in the digital Arab landscape and Arabic script Web addresses like شبكة. will be a significant factor in helping the next 90 million Arab Internet users navigate to Arabic content. شبكة. will help provide the platform needed to fuel greater Arabic orientated online entrepreneurism and innovation.”
Now that شبكة. has passed ICANN’s evaluation process, there are only a few more policy, technical and regulatory steps to be completed before the namespace is opened live on the Internet in mid 2013 for public registrations.
The successful passing of ICANN’s evaluation today for شبكة. follows top-level discussions held in Dubai earlier this month at the Arab multi-stakeholder Internet governance forum. At the forum, industry and policy leaders from across the region discussed how they can nurture the development of the Internet and the introduction of شبكة. was said to be a vital component of these talks.