The Internet is one-step closer to being more accessible to speakers of Arabic in Qatar and around the world with the official launch of the Qatar Domains Registry (QDR), which was officially unveiled to the public on March 2, 2011 by the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR).
QDR, which will be managed by ictQATAR will begin making Qatar-specific Internet domain names in Arabic and Latin-scripts available to select organizations in Qatar immediately, with general domains available to the public by August of 2011.
"The launch of the Qatar Domains Registry is a major milestone as we work to build a more digitally inclusive society. As more organizations and individuals begin adopting non-Latin domain names the Internet will literally be opened up to broad new audiences. 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," said Saleh Al-Kuwari, Chief Technical Manager at ictQATAR. "Qatar-specific domains are a valuable asset for businesses and individuals looking to establish their online identity. Using .qa or قطر. shows you are uniquely Qatar."
Rod Beckstrom, the President and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the agency responsible for Internet domain names, was in Qatar for the launch. "Approval of Qatar's internationalized domain name is an acknowledgment of the country's vision and leadership," said Beckstrom. "In pursuing the IDN on behalf of its people, Qatar has recognized that the Internet is the way of the future."
Qatar was one of the first countries to apply to ICANN for creation of an Arabic domain name. Currently, a number of websites are being used as pilots for the new domain names, including ictQATAR and Hukoomi. Qatar-specific Arabic domain names will be made available more broadly to government entities, and registered trademark and IP holders during the next phase of registration. By the end of August 2011, the Qatar-specific domain names will be publicly available.
Businesses and individuals will be able to easily check the availability of Qatar domain names through the QDR website and look up who owns the domain if it is already registered. After checking availability, the user will either be directed to approved registrars or be provided information on how to register directly with QDR. QDR will offer most domain names to the public through accredited registrars, except for specialized domain names for government, military, not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions, which will require direct registration with QDR. The website will be launched in the near future.
"Country-specific domain names are an incredibly valuable national commodity. To maximize their reach and value, QDR was developed based on a registry-registrar system, where approved registrars will be able to provide domain registration services to clients. We are currently working to attract numerous local and international registrars to promote competition in the market and provide choices for consumers," said Al-Kuwari.
ictQATAR led Qatar's application process for the Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) and was part of a fast-track process with ICANN for approval. Qatar received official delegation for its Arabic domains in December 2010, and has been working to meet all of ICANN's technical requirements for the rollout and administration of the domain names since.
Prior to ICANN's Board approval to delegate Qatar's domain names management to ictQATAR, Qatar Telecom "Qtel" was administering ".qa" domain names since 1996. Qatar's Arabic Domain name "قطر." (.qatar) was not previously available, and was initiated by ictQATAR.