Egypt launches first Arabic domain suffix
Egypt launches first Arabic domain suffix
Tuesday, May 11,2010 08:49
  The computers are filled with eager Internet users at this Cairo-based café. They have their headphones on and are tapping away at the keys with ease and quickness, but for Abdallah Moataz, a 41-year-old from the Nile Delta, he doesn’t know how to use a computer that well. The problem is he can’t read latin characters as well as he would like.

“It has really forced me back away from the keyboard because it takes too much time to get one email sent,” he said. “I know how to use a computer, but without the Arabic it was extremely difficult.”

Times are changing, however, as Egypt – in partnership with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – launched this week the first non-latin character domains after being approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

For Moataz, it is a positive step toward his, and others, ability to access the Internet with ease and in their native tongue. “I am very happy to hear this because I don’t need to have all those English sites. I can’t read them anyway,” he said.

According to the governments, registration for new websites using the Arabic script as domains will begin in the near future. Egypt has already given the go-ahead for three companies to use the new Arabic suffix.

Egyptian Communication and Information Technology Minister Tarek Kamel said in a statement “this great step will open up new horizons for e-services in Egypt as well as boosting the number of online users and enabling Internet service providers to enter new markets by eliminating language barriers.”

In a statement from ICANN, they said that the region has only around 20 percent of the population online, which they believed would be remedied by the new Arabic domains. The developed world sees an average of over 60 percent, ICANN said.

Also planned is a domain suffix for Russia in Cyrillic, which will be the fourth new domain, accepted soon. By the end of 2010, suffixes for Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, Palestine, Hong Kong, Thailand and Sri Lanka are also expected to be approved, ICANN said.

“It is exciting and now I should be able to get online and use these things that my kids are using on a daily basis. We will try our best to buy a computer,” said. Moataz                

Republished With Permission From Bikya Masr