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Arabic Dot-Shabaka Domain Launch Signals New Internet Era

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Arabic .web suffix is the first of many new domains to be licensed by ICANN

The first of a new range of generic domain names has gone live, with the launch of the Arabic dot-shabaka (شبكة.) extension  marking the beginning of a new era for internet registrations.

Meaning ‘web’, dot-shabaka is the first in a range of a thousand new suffixes which will be gradually rolled out in order to expand the range of addresses available, with the new rules allowing brands and companies to own suffixes up to 63 characters in length. It is the biggest set of suffix additions since 1998, when ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was set up to manage and extend the Internet’s domains, which started out with a handful of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .com and .org, back in 1984. Alongside these, there are now 280 country-specific TLDs, such as .uk and .fr, and a few more such as .biz and .xxx.

ICANN has long wanted to increase the diversity of the Internet, especially to include countries using non-Latin scripts such as Arabic.

Arabic Internet button scarf muslim © Elnur Shutterstock

All-new domains

“For the first time, Internet users across the world will be able to use generic Top-Level Domain names entirely in their native languages,” said Akram Atallah, President of ICANN’s Global Domain’s Division. “This change will promote closer connections between people, brands and organisations and will in turn provide new routes for businesses to reach their customers.”

Businesses can now register second-level domains within top level suffixes such as dot-shabaka if they want to further publicise and protect their brand’s identity online. Most of the new domains will cost about £10 to £30, or $15 to $50, per year to own, but there will be associated administration costs that may add up.

Wholesalers offering these new gTLDs need to charge such amounts to cover their own costs including the $185,000 (£113,200) application fee to ICANN to licence a gTLD.

The news was revealed at the Middle East DNS forum in Dubai, hosted by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE along with ICANN and ISOC.

“We are now entering a significant phase in the development of the Middle East domain name industry with the introduction of Top-Level Domains such as شبكة. set to totally transform the dynamics of existing structures,” said Yasmin Omer, general manager of dotShabaka Registry, the Dubai-based business running the شبكة. gTLD.

The company also announced that both its own homepage and that of telecoms provider Etisalat had already started using its new suffix, with Omar later telling GulfNews that 250 companies had already applied to register the new domain name.

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