The Ruler of Dubai Launches First Website with Arabic IDN

The ruler of Dubai has made use of the establishment of non-Latin characters in domain names.


Dubai leader Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid has become the first Arab leader to take advantage of the introduction of non-Latin characters in the titles of web addresses, which became available earlier this month.

Following the growing use of Arabic on the Web, domain names on the Internet can now be spelled out in Arabic and other languages using non-Latin letters. The ruler of Dubai, known for his fondness of social media, has set up his own website with an Arabic web address.

“This remarkable achievement reflects His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum’s keenness to promote the Arabic language, and reaffirms the United Arab Emirates’ deep-rooted Arab identity,” said a statement from the media office of the government of Dubai.

When the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in charge of coordinating the unique address of every website, established the first URLs with non-Latin characters, a major reason was increased Internet usage in the Arab world.

“Arabic is among the most highly used languages on the Internet today. The Middle East has an average Internet penetration of just over 20 percent, and shows a big potential for growth,” said an ICANN statement. “Users in the region will now have easier access to the Internet, with the ability to use their primary language for the entire domain name.”

This has made it possible to use مصر (Egypt), السعودية  (Saudi Arabia) and امارات (United Arab Emirates) at the end of domain names.

“I believe the use of Arabic characters to define Internet addresses is highly significant for the diffusion of web services in the Middle East, where language barriers have always hindered expansions,” Muhammad Ayish, Professor of Communication at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, told The Media Line.

“The fact that three Arab countries are making use of the recent ICANN decision to allow non-Latin domain names,” he said, “is quite encouraging for a region that increasingly sees the net as central for realizing its broad knowledge society aspirations.”

“Of course, there are some problems that have yet to be resolved, such as the fact that Arabic starts from right to left and that e-mail recipients in non-Arab countries may not be able to use Arabic-based domains due to language problems,” Ayish said.

“In many ways, this development is seen as an assertion of cultural identity in virtual space,” he concluded.

However, influential Emirati blogger BuJ Al-Arab doubts this new change on the World Wide Web will have a profound effect.

“Personally, I don’t think the addition of Arabic domain names will make much difference for me,” BuJ Al-Arab told The Media Line.

“I prefer to keep the system as it is really. People prefer standardization rather than going off in many routes,” BuJ Al-Arab said. “English is the undisputed global language, so why steer away from the characters that are used in English.”

“Instead, an Arabic domain name might be the answer for Arabic proper-nouns that can only be translated phonetically or when a proper translation might not serve a business purpose,” BuJ Al-Arab said.

Written by Adam Gonn


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