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Gulf countries can now register Arabic domains

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are now authorised by ICANN to offer domain names entirely in Arabic

Gulf countries can now register Arabic domains
Web addresses can now be completely in Arabic.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have become some of the first countries in the world to be able to register domain names entirely in a language other than English, marking an important milestone in the history of the Internet.

Several countries have been keen to register their own internationalised domain name country code domains (IDN ccTLDs) after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ended the exclusive use of Latin characters for internet addresses last year. Here in the Middle East, it meant that Arabic characters could be used for an entire internet address, instead of just parts of addresses as in the case of .com or .net.

At a board meeting held on April 22nd, ICANN finally approved and authorised the first few delegations for IDN ccTLDs - Russia (R.F.), Saudi Arabia (Al-Saudia), Egypt (Misr) and the United Arab Emirates (Emarat).

“The Board’s approval means these addresses should be available to users in the four countries very soon,” said Tina Dam, senior director of the IDN program at ICANN.

Today, SaudiNIC (Network Information Center), which is part of the Kingdom's Communications and Information Technology Commission, announced that they will open registrations under the new Saudi IDN ccTLD from May 31st, 2010 in two stages.

The ‘Sunrise' phase that kicks off on May 31st and ends on July 12th will see SaudiNIC accept applications from any entity or individual that corresponds with their registered trade name or mark under the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Saudi Arabia, including all governmental or semi-governmental authorities and organisations. Members of the Saudi general public can put in applications for their own Arabic domain names with SaudiNIC during the second ‘Landrush' phase that starts on September 27th 2010.

The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority in Egypt has already licensed three firms - TE Data, InTouch and Vodafone Data - to accept and register Arabic domain name applications from interested entities within the country.

The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announced in January that the string .emarat was approved, having passed the second stage of the three-stage registration procedure with ICANN at the time. The .ae Domain Administration (.aeDA) is responsible for all policies related to the operation of the IDN ccTLD in the country.

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