Arabic Language Domains & Internet Growth In The Arab World

| Aug 6, 2009 | comment 9 Comments

A lot of talk has been going on these past couple of days about Arabic language domain names which should become possible within the coming year, with the major changes planned for the web addressing system, allowing the use of international scripts such as Arabic, Chinese and Hindi in domain names, as well as the liberalization of the registration process for top-level domains.

The Arab league already has plans to play a big role in the midst of all this by operating its own “.arab” domain, registered in Arabic and Latin characters.

The officials at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) think that this move will help boost internet growth in the region, as more and more Arabic speakers find it more accessible to them.

According to Baher Esmat, the Middle East relations manager of ICANN, “The next 10 million or 20 million Arab internet users will be those who do not speak English,” as “They will want to do everything in Arabic, including the addresses.”

Now even though I’m not really a supporter of the move to liberalize the registration of top-level domains, because of the big hassle and mess I fear it will create, I think the other change adding the possibility to use international scripts in domain names is a great step forward for the web addressing system.

I’m sure a lot of Arab websites will be registering web addresses in Arabic once it becomes possible next year, and it will be interesting to analyze the statistics and see how many people prefer using them.

Still, I’m not sure it’ll really have that big of an effect on internet growth in the region. I mean, is using a web address typed in Latin characters really a big barrier holding back people from getting online and surfing the web?
Of course, it’s more practical to just do everything in Arabic for many, but how many people do you think have skipped using the internet altogether just because they don’t want to type urls in Latin?

What do you think? Will Arabic domain names help boost internet growth in the region? Why?

  • http://twitter.com/georgeweyman George Weyman

    Do we know how many Arabic internet users speak English now so we can monitor how this changes with Arabic domain names?

  • mab3oos

    I think it will. It is another good reason for thousands of Arab businesses to establish presence on the web. The spelling, however, is an area I find very challenging. Many people write the same word differently and still mean the same thing. For example, the word Jordanian (female) would be written أُردنية، اردنيه، أردنيه، اردنية and so on. I guess my main concern would be the the usage of الهمزة، الحركات، و النقاط فوق التاء المربوطة

  • Dao

    This is pure ICANN marketing strategy after being attacked over US dominance on this organism. I see it as both a strategic marketing and calm down for those approaches.
    Well marketing as you'll have now to have both let say startuparabia.com and its Arabic spelling equivalent. Those boosting ICANN revenues.
    Strategic as they will delegate the operation of those sub TLD to third parties and keep central dominance on the organism.

  • http://www.almsaodi.com/ Amad

    I am not a big fan of this either… I usually like having stuff in Arabic, but not LTD's and domain names..

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  • http://www.facebook.com/omaroyoun Omar Aloyoun

    Introducing .Arab Top Level Domain will have a future segmentation competency for the Arab & MENA businesses and personal web existences for sure.

    I can see that many are missing an important point here. The introduction of IDN (Internationalized Domain Names) was already launched long time ago, where the domain name can be in any native language (Including Arabic), but with an english only TLD (extension). The browser converts the IDN domain e.g الأردن.com to a puny-code based domain starting with xn--(e.g. http://xn--igbhzh7gpa.com/)
    ICANN is seriously looking to internationalize the TLD extension to be in native languages (e.g. Omar.عرب). While this seems to be on the way, a lot of opinions agrees that this will cause Internet names dilemma and de-fragmentation.

    My opinion is that .COM will stay the king of the Internet.

    Check out our Domain Names Facebook Group @ http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=195703813

  • http://www.facebook.com/omaroyoun Omar Aloyoun

    Introducing .Arab Top Level Domain will have a future segmentation competency for the Arab & MENA businesses and personal web existences for sure.

    I can see that many are missing an important point here. The introduction of IDN (Internationalized Domain Names) was already launched long time ago, where the domain name can be in any native language (Including Arabic), but with an english only TLD (extension). The browser converts the IDN domain e.g الأردن.com to a puny-code based domain starting with xn--(e.g. http://xn--igbhzh7gpa.com/)
    ICANN is seriously looking to internationalize the TLD extension to be in native languages (e.g. Omar.عرب). While this seems to be on the way, a lot of opinions agrees that this will cause Internet names dilemma and de-fragmentation.

    My opinion is that .COM will stay the king of the Internet.

    Check out our Domain Names Facebook Group @ http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=195703813

  • amrlotfy

    alot of work has been done by wael nasr and Dr. zoman at the United nations escwa. I think we met wael nasr in egypt and saudi arabia where he showed us that there is a market for millions of names.

  • Steve

    Great Article, Heres my site, an example:
    http://Arabic-Domain-Names.com
    Which can also be reached with an updated browser at:
    http://أسماء-النطاقات-العربية.com

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