The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that Qatar has received approval to have its internet domains written in Arabic, one of the first countries in the world to receive approval to use non-Latin language scripts in domain names.
Once implemented, Internet Domains ending in the Arabic equivalent of ".qatar" ("قطر.") can be registered in Qatar's native Arabic-language.
"The ability to have Arabic language Internet domains is a vital step in making the internet more accessible to the people living in Qatar and across the Arab region. Until now, non-English speakers have faced significant barriers when trying to access the Internet. This is one of the most important recent changes to the Internet and I expect it will help spur the creation of more local websites and digital content," said Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber, ictQATAR's Secretary General.
ictQATAR, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, led Qatar's application process for the International Domain Name (IDN) Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).
With the approval, Qatar will continue its work in meeting the technical requirements for rollout and administration of the new Internet Domains, and will begin work with ICANN to implement the Arabic domain name in the internet addressing system. ictQATAR is currently targeting late 2010/early 2011 for introduction of Qatar's Arabic IDN ccTLD.
Qatar was part of ICANN's fast-track process that enabled countries to submit requests to ICANN for IDN ccTLDs to represent their country or territory name in scripts other than Latin. Since their creation in the 1980s, Internet domain names were limited to only 37 characters—the 10 numerals (0 - 9), 26 letters from the Latin alphabet used in English (A-Z) and the hyphen.
China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Palestine, Thailand and Tunisia are the other countries/territories that received fast-track approval for their own IDN ccTLDs. Previously Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had received approval. Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Thai, Sinhalese and Tamil are all on track to become official Internet Domain languages.