ICANN signs up first ever Arabic top-level domain

Contract signed for Arabic-language Web namespace; live launch expected within months

Tags: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
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ICANN signs up first ever Arabic top-level domain The new domain is expected to serve as ‘the centre of all things Arabic on the Internet’.
By  Stephen McBride Published  July 15, 2013

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) yesterday agreed to license شبكة. (.shabaka or ".web" in English), which will become the world's first Arabic top-level domain (TLD), according to dotShabaka Registry, the company responsible for the concept.

DotShabaka saw off competition from almost 1900 other applicants from around the world, to register شبكة., which will provide Arabic-speaking Internet users with an alternative to non-Arabic Internet namespaces such as .com, .net and .org. It is expected to be live on the Internet in the coming months.

"[The] contract signing is a monumental occasion," said Yasmin Omer, general manager of dotShabaka Registry.

"As the first new top-level domain, شبكة. is set to become the centre of all things Arabic on the Internet. It is an incredible achievement not only for us but for the entire Arabic-speaking world. It will pioneer a new way for people to use the Internet that begins with the Arabic language.

"شبكة. will have a global audience, with over 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa [that] use Arabic as an official language - a region that comprises over 380m people."

Omer said Arabic is also the fastest growing language online - with growth of more than 2,500% in the 10 years to 2011.

"In spite of the boom in Arabic content online, users are still burdened with the need to use English on the Internet," she said. "Many websites and Internet applications force visitors to only use English. Through شبكة., we are campaigning for a truly Arabic Internet experience from start to finish.

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