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ICANN and the Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organization Collaborate on Internationalized Domain Names and Universal Acceptance in the Middle East

ISTANBUL - 1 July 2021

Today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organization (AICTO). The MoU outlines how the organizations will work together to support the use of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and to promote Universal Acceptance (UA) in the region. Together, this collaboration will contribute to maintaining a more secure and resilient Domain Name System (DNS) at both the regional and global levels.

IDNs enable people around the world to use domain names and email addresses in local languages and scripts, including those in Arabic (e.g., بريد@مثال.موقع، .تونس). Universal Acceptance is key to supporting this use by ensuring that all domain names and email addresses – regardless of script, language, or character length – are accepted equally by all Internet-enabled applications, devices, and systems. This includes supporting all IDN country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), as well as new and long generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

When UA is achieved, Arabic-speaking Internet users will be able to navigate and communicate on the Internet using a chosen domain name and email address that best aligns with their interests, business, culture, language, and script. It also has important economic and social benefits by increasing an end user's ability to access and connect to e-commerce, local communities, and public services.

"The use of Arabic language top-level domain names remains below the potential of the regional market and its ambitions. The recognition of the Arabic language by major email platforms also remains low in comparison with what is done with other main languages in the world. This shows what we call 'digital linguistic divide or gap'," said H.E. Mohamed Ben Amor, General Manager of AICTO. "The AICTO, with the contribution and the expertise of ICANN, will be able to mobilize all the necessary resources at the regional scale to reposition the Arabic language at its true value and so to fill this gap. This effort will certainly have positive economic impacts on the regional ecosystem."

"The Internet can be local and global at the same time," said Göran Marby, President and CEO of ICANN. "This is a great opportunity for ICANN organization and AICTO to work together to help the Arabic speaking communities access the Internet in their local languages and scripts. It is an equally important opportunity for us to collaborate with AICTO to further improve the trust and confidence in the Internet at the regional level."

Some of the joint activities that will be explored under the MoU, include organizing UA training and capacity-building events for relevant stakeholders in the Arab states. More information on these events will be released at a later date.

The full Memorandum of Understanding can be viewed here .

If your organization is interested in coordinating with ICANN on UA-related initiatives, please email uaprogram@icann.org.

About AICTO

The Arab ICT Organization (AICTO) is a specialized Arab governmental organization working under the aegis of the league of Arab States. It aims at developing ICTs throughout the Arab region and providing the necessary mechanisms to support cooperation and complementarity between AICTO members, promote and enrich common policies and strategies to develop vital technological domains. AICTO is working with all stakeholders in the Arab region and other international partners to spread fair and sustainable access to technology and adapt it to serve the goals of economic development and achieve social advancement over the region.

About ICANN

ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a nonprofit public benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.