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Arabic top-level domain to launch mid-year.

The launch of .shabaka, which translates to .web in English, an Arabic script Top-Level Domain is expected mid-year, a report said.

While the suffix is translated to .shabaka for the purposes of writing it in English, the domain namespace will only operate in Arabic script on the Internet and end users will only be able to use it by typing in Arabic.

Moving away from non-Arabic Internet namespaces such as .com, .net and .org, the introduction of shabaka will provide the Arabic speaking world with a uniquely Arabic-orientated corner of the Internet.

The launch of .shabaka is part of the new Top-Level Domain program which is being rolled out by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global regulator of web addresses.

ICANN gave the official tick of approval today for .shabaka as it became one of the first new Top-Level Domains, beating around 1900 other applicants globally, to pass ICANN's rigorous evaluation process.

Yasmin Omer, general manager of International Domain Registry - the Internet technology company behind .shabaka - said she believes the new domain will become the centre of all things Arabic on the Internet.

"I expect .shabaka to be one of the biggest innovations in the Arab digital and online landscape in 2013. It is set to totally redefine the way businesses and users approach the Internet in the global Arabic speaking community," Omer said.

.shabaka will be the first cross-border Arabic domain extension open to all Arabic speakers across the world, reflective of Arabic culture and society. It will offer businesses and website registrants a targeted online channel to reach the entire Arabic speaking community in their native language.

".shabaka will be a game-changer for the Arabic community," Omer said. "It will open a channel to intuitively connect Arabic speakers to Arabic content and provide an end-to-end Arabic online experience.

"There is enormous commercial potential in the digital Arab landscape and Arabic script web addresses like .shabaka will be a significant factor in helping the next 90 million Arab Internet users navigate to Arabic content. .shabaka will help provide the platform needed to fuel greater Arabic orientated online entrepreneurism and innovation," she added.

Now that .shabaka has passed ICANN's evaluation process, there are only a few more policy, technical and regulatory steps to be completed before the namespace is opened live on the Internet in mid 2013 for public registrations.

The successful passing of ICANN's evaluation today for .shabaka follows top-level discussions held in Dubai earlier this month at the Arab multi-stakeholder Internet governance forum.

At the forum, industry and policy leaders from across the region discussed how they can nurture the development of the Internet and the introduction of .shabaka was a vital component of these talks. The .shabaka tagline, 'Arabic Internet, Our Future', complements the theme of these talks. - TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Mar 24, 2013
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