Tech & Communications

“.shabaka” the world’s first Arabic borderless top-level domain

by  — 8 September 2013

Arabic speaking Internet users from all over the world will be able to access the Internet using only Arabic for the first time after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global regulator of web addresses entered into a contract with .shabaka registry “شبكة.” making it the world’s first Arabic Top-Level Domain (TLD).

Saleh Al Kuwari, chief technical manager at ictQATAR speaking at the launch of Qatar’s own Arabic domain registry in 2011. He noted “The Arab world represents a region with enormous potential for growth both in terms of usage and the creation of new digital content, especially Arabic content.” (Image by ictQatar)

The domain, which is expected to be launched in the coming months is part of a wider effort on the part of ICANN to expand the Internet’s web address system. The TLD is likely to be a welcome addition to the region, which is striving to create more Arabic content for the web as demand increases exponentially. According to Internet World Stats tracking Internet usage shows that between 2000 and 2011, Arabic speaking audience online increased by 2500 percent.

In 2011, the Qatar Domains Registry made available Qatar specific Arabic Internet domain names. At the time, Saleh Al Kuwari, chief technical manager at ictQATAR was quoted as saying; “The introduction of Arabic domain names is a major milestone in making the Internet accessible for all.”

2500% - The percentage by which Arabic speaking audience online increased between the years 2000 and 2011.

The .shabaka namespace which translates to .web in English will provide Arabic speaking audiences with alternatives to established English namespaces such as .com, .net and .org. The application was selected by ICANN from amongst 1900 others submitted from around the world.

Yasmin Omer, general manager of dotShabaka Registry noted that, “.shabaka will have a global audience, with over 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa which use Arabic as an official language – a region that comprises over 380 million people.”

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

“The domain name marks a meaningful change for the Arabic Internet, with opportunities for new businesses to flourish.” - Blake Irving, CEO, GoDaddy.

International organisations are also taking note of the growth and opportunities in developing Arabic content. Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name and web hosting provider noted that, “The domain name extension marks a meaningful change for the Arabic Internet, with tremendous opportunities for new businesses to grow and flourish… in the Arabic language,” also adding that this is in line with the company’s strategy to expand into international markets.

ICANN is currently running final testing requirements on the namespace before it becomes accessible on the Internet in the upcoming months. 

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