Egypt, China First In Line for Top Level Internationalised Domains

Egypt and China have both said they will be applying for country code internationalised top level domain names as part of ICANN’s fast track process. ICANN will begin accepting requests for the new TLDs today (16 November) at 00:00UTC.

Egypt is planning to launch “the world’s first Arabic language internet domain” with Egypt’s communications minister, Tarek Kamel, saying the new domain name would be “.masr” written in the Arabic alphabet. It translates as “.Egypt”, reports the BBC.

“The effort is part of a broader push to expand both access and content in developing nations, where the internet remains out of reach for wide swaths of the population,” reports the AP.

The report continues saying that “registering of the domain ‘will offer new avenues for innovation, investment and growth, and hence we can truly and gladly say … the internet now speaks Arabic,’ Kamel said at the start of the internet Governance Forum – a U.N.-sponsored gathering that drew Net legends like Yahoo’s Jerry Yang and Tim Berners-Lee, known as one of the internet’s founding fathers.”

China’s application is reported by the China Daily who says that the China Network Information Centre (CNNIC) will also apply for a Chinese TLD today (Monday). The report says CNNIC will apply for the top-level Chinese domain name “Zhongguo”(written in pinyin).

“China has a huge number of netizens – 388 million as of the end of June this year. Their surfing on the Net will be facilitated under the Chinese domains but they can continue to use English domains as well,” said Qilin, assistant director of CNNIC in China Daily.

ICANN President Rod Beckstrom described the importance of this change to the global Internet community, by saying “over half the Internet users around the world don’t use a Latin-based script as their native language. IDNs are about making the Internet more global and accessible for everyone.”

Once the requests are evaluated and approved, new ccTLD IDNs are expected to come online in many countries during 2010.

“This is the biggest technical change to the Internet’s addressing system – the Domain Name System – in many years,” said Tina Dam, ICANN’s Senior Director of Internationalized Domain Names. “Right now, it’s not possible to get a domain name entirely in for example Chinese characters or Arabic characters. This is about to change.”