Arabic Web key to greater regional participation
ARI Registry Services explains the need for Arabic Web options
The next time you're driving down the D89 Airport Road to Dubai International Airport, take a moment to look at the advertising billboards. In particular, look at the domain names used in the call to action.
You will notice a number of Arabic advertisements aimed entirely at an Arabic audience that strangely feature domain names written in English.
How can we expect the Arabic community to navigate to online content using domain names written in a foreign language? Furthermore, how many real world and e-commerce transactions are missed because an Arabic speaker was unable to navigate online?
The problem is that while there have been advancements in Arabic content and applications, the very infrastructure used to navigate online has not kept pace - namely the regional domain name market.
We know the next billion Internet users won't come from English speaking countries. The same can be said for the Arab region; the next 90 million Arabic Internet users will expect to navigate the Internet in their native language.
The writing is on the wall - and it is in Arabic script. Arabic is the fastest-growing language online with growth of more than 2500% between 2000 and 2011. Arabic is also the fastest-growing language on Twitter.
These roadside billboards offer an insight into the challenges faced by Arabic speakers online and highlight the limitations of the regional domain name market and the options available to businesses wanting to register domain names. They show there is a disconnect between an increasingly online-oriented society and the accessibility of participation.
Is it any wonder that many local Internet users rely on Google to navigate the Internet? Why should they have to rely on a third party to seek out the content they are looking for?
What we need is an end-to-end Arabic online experience for the Arabic speaking community. This means an Arabic keyboard to type in an Arabic domain name to visit Arabic content.
The solution is Arabic internationalised domain names which eliminate the reliance on traditional Latin scripts and instead allow Arabic speakers to navigate in their own language. Non-Latin Arabic script domains will be a significant factor in helping the next wave of Arab Internet users navigate to online Arabic content.