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Three Years into ICANN's Middle East Strategy

16 June 2016
By Baher EsmatBaher Esmat

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Over three years ago, ICANN stakeholders in the Middle East came together to develop a regional engagement strategy for 2013–2016. The strategy affirmed the need to foster:

  • Two-way engagement between ICANN and the Internet community
  • Strong and competitive domain name industry
  • Mechanisms for multistakeholder Internet governance

ICANN staff and the Middle East community have worked together to carry out the strategy in accordance with an implementation plan they developed together and updated each year.

The timeframe of the strategy ends on 30 June 2016, so now is a good time to summarize our accomplishments. For a visual representation of relevant KPIs from this period, see the infographic here [PDF, 3.19 MB].


  • The DNS Entrepreneurship Center is up and running. Partnering with local and international leaders in the domain name industry, the center provides training workshops on topics related to the Domain Name System (DNS).
  • The DNS Forum was established as an annual event that offers industry-related discussions and networking opportunities with local and international experts. Today, we offer two forums: the Middle East DNS Forum and the Turkey DNS Forum.
  • A study on the DNS market in the Middle East was released. This study contains qualitative and quantitative data on the current state of the domain name industry in the region, and offers recommendations for how to continue expanding this industry.
  • The Task Force on Arabic Script Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) (TF-AIDN) is a community group that promotes the use of Arabic IDNs. A major accomplishment was the development of Arabic Script's Label Generation Ruleset (LGR), the first to be integrated into the Root Zone LGR. The task force is currently developing second-level LGRs for languages that use the Arabic script. Another project is identifying and addressing the challenges of universal acceptance of Arabic script IDNs.
  • The Middle East and Adjoining Countries School on Internet Governance (MEAC-SIG) is a capacity-building program that helps the regional community better understand Internet governance. The program also facilitates community engagement in related forums at national, regional and international levels. MEAC-SIG was held in 2014 and 2015, and is scheduled again for August 2016. A local program was launched last year in Pakistan in partnership with local stakeholders, the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center and the Internet Society.
  • Through Memorandums of Understanding, ICANN formed key partnerships with:

What's next?

At ICANN55 in Marrakech, we presented the achievements of the 2013–2016 strategy to the community and discussed how to build on them. We continued the consultation after Marrakech, and the community recommended that a new group be formed to develop a regional strategy for 2016–2019.

The Middle East and Adjoining Countries Strategy Working Group (MEAC-SWG) was announced earlier this month, and community members have already developed its charter. The MEAC-SWG had its first conference call early this week. We are off to a great start and look forward to working with MEAC-SWG in the coming months!


Baher Esmat

Baher Esmat

VP, Stakeholder Engagement - Middle East and Managing Director Middle East and Africa

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