Gulf Times: Qatar registry launches Arabic domain names

Last night, Qatar became one of the first countries in the world to offer Arabic domain names to Internet users as ictQatar officials launched the Qatar Domains Registry, making the Internet more accessible to Arabic customers.
The first phase of the introduction of the Qatar Domains Registry (QDR) will see select organisations allocated Qatar-specific Internet domain names, with general domain names to be made available to the public by August of this year.
A number of sites are currently being used as pilots for the system, including Hukoomi and ictQatar, while other government organisations and registered trademark and IP holders will be launching in the near future.
Chief technical manager at ictQatar, Salah al-Kuwari emphasised the importance of the launch to local users: “The launch of the Qatar Domains Registry is a major milestone as we work to build a more digitally inclusive society.”
“As more organisations and individuals begin adopting non-Latin domain names the Internet will literally be opened up to brand new audiences,” he said, adding “the Arab world represents a region with enormous potential for growth both in terms of usage and the creation of new digital content.
“Qatar-specific domains are a valuable asset for businesses and individuals looking to establish their online identity – using .qa or .qatar shows you are uniquely Qatar,” added al-Kuwari.
President and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ICANN, Rod Beckstrom gave a presentation to mark the launch of the domain registry, and congratulated ictQatar on the “historic achievement” marked by the launch of .qatar ‏
Beckstrom spoke about the challenges faced by his organisation, attempting to maintain a global network when so many billions of domain names are accessed on a daily basis.
With 1mn new devices going online every day, the scale of the Internet is quite remarkable, and Qatar has not missed out on the growth of the global network.
In fact, Beckstrom explained that Qatar is among the top three internet using nations in the Middle East with 52% of people here online, 50% penetration of broadband services in households, and 167% mobile connectivity penetration.
He explained that the launch of Qatar’s domain registry will have multiple benefits, encouraging creativity and innovation, increasing convenience and consumer choice and also supporting pride in Qatar’s cultural identity
“Approval of Qatar’s internationalised domain name (IDN) is an acknowledgement of the country’s vision and leadership, he said, adding “in pursuing the IDN on behalf of its people Qatar has recognised that the Internet is the way of the future.”
Users will be able to check the availability of domain names through the QDR website, which officials said would be launched in the near future.
They will then be able to register their domains with the QDR, and al-Kuwari explained that existing domains will experience no difficulties with the launch of the new registry.
The launch of the QDR has been a long time in planning, and officials explained that ictQatar led the application process for the IDN, the country code top level domain (ccTLD) and assisted with the fasttrack process with ICANN for approval, officially receiving delegation of the domains in December 2010.
“Country-specific domain names are an incredibly valuable national commodity.  To maximise their reach and value, QDR was developed based on a registry-registrar system, where approved registrars will be able to attract numerous local and international registrars to promote competition in the market and provide choices for consumers,” added al-Kuwari.


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