When the Middle East Strategy [PDF, 1.47 MB] was developed and agreed-upon, the Middle East Strategy Working Group (MESWG) decided to execute the outcomes of this document over phases as annual implementation plans. While July 1, 2013 was the starting date for the year 1 implementation plan, July 1, 2014 marked the beginning of the execution for the year 2 implementation plan.
The ME Strategy Implementation Plan for Year 1 [PDF, 115 KB] had lots of challenging yet exciting deliverables. The Task Force on Arabic Script IDNs (TF-AIDN) was inaugurated during the 2nd Arab IGF in Algiers in early October 2013, and is a true example of tackling issues related to Arabic Script IDNs in a bottom-up, consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder model. The TF-AIDN had a couple of notable deliverables, and had 2 face-to-face meetings during this year in an attempt to push their work forward. Another key milestone was the inaugural Middle East DNS Forum that was held in Dubai in early February 2014, and marked the birth of a platform for regional stakeholders to engage and strengthen the untapped DNS industry in the region. And as means to maintain and expand the interest in this forum over the coming years, a program committee was formed in June to develop the program and agenda for future forums. Another milestone during year 1 was the Middle East and Adjoining Countries School on Internet Governance (MEAC-SIG) that took place in Kuwait where 25 students from 9 countries within the region attended 5-days of extensive education on issues related to Internet Governance. Finally, and as a wrap up, an assessment and review of year 1 implementation plan [PDF, 89 KB] was carried out, and the community was updated on this during the ICANN meeting in London in late June.
Year 1 concluded with the signing of two strategic agreements; the regional DNS Entrepreneurship Center (DNS-EC) [PDF, 675 KB] and the MoU with the Qatari Ministry of Information and Communications Technology [PDF, 210 KB]. These two agreements were signed during the ICANN meeting in London.
With year 2 implementation plan [PDF, 29 KB] just kick-started a couple of days ago, work is already underway to fulfill this plan in an aim to better serve the needs and demands of our region. The regional DNS Entrepreneurship Center (DNS-EC) is probably the star of this year's implementation plan as this center aims to strengthen the DNS industry in both the Middle East and Africa. Another key deliverable expected during this year is to conduct a market study to identify the challenges and opportunities of the domain name industry in the region. The second edition of both the Middle East DNS Forum and the Middle East and Adjoining Countries School on Internet Governance (MEAC-SIG) is high on our work plan with the work already underway for the 2nd Middle East DNS Forum. A couple of training programs are in the pipeline, and work is already underway to define the needs and secure venue and trainers for this to happen.
With the first ICANN meeting of 2015 taking place in Morocco; a country the ME Strategy covers, we expect to engage with the community there and update them on the strategy; mainly what has been fulfilled so far, what is in the pipelines, and any suggestions they might have.
Lots to be done and a lot of excitement ahead of us!
The Middle East Strategy Working Group (MESWG) is an ad-hoc group of Internet experts from the region the strategy covers; i.e. the 22 Arab States, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (collectively defined as "The Region"). The working group consists of 21 experts from 11 countries of the region. ICANN has coordinated the formation of the working group, and provides all the necessary support to drive its mandate forward. ICANN's strategic goals for its engagement in the region are to:
- Foster two-way engagement between ICANN and the broader Internet community in the region;
- Build strong and competitive domain name industry in the region; and
- Promote multi-stakeholder Internet governance mechanisms in the region.
These goals are divided into three strategic focus areas, namely: DNS Security and Stability, Domain Name Industry, and Internet Governance Ecosystem.
More on the MESWG can be found on the dedicated Wiki online at https://community.icann.org/display/MES/Middle+East+Working+Group.