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Partnership to Help Develop Arabic Domain Names | ICANN, UN Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia agree to work together

MARINA DEL REY, Calf.: The development of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) in Arabic will get a boost thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the UN Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia (UN-ESCWA).

“Implementing IDNs is one of the largest enhancements to the Internet in its history, ” said Dr Paul Twomey, ICANN’s President and CEO. “This partnership with UN-ESCWA will insure we are sharing information and ideas on how to move forward with having Arabic available in the globally-interoperable Domain Name System.”

Yousef Nusseir, UN-ESCWA Chief of Information and Communication Technology Division said that UN-ESCWA was committed to facilitate access to the Internet in the Arabic language and had led efforts geared towards using the Arabic characters in Domain Names since 2003, including research, standardization, and advocacy.

“UN-ESCWA and the League of Arab States are currently harmonizing several regional joint activities, among which is the upgrade of the Arab pilot project spearheaded by the League, aiming at full-fledged implementation that would drastically increase the internet dissemination rates in the region,” he said.

 ICANN will be launching a real-time, real-world evaluation later this year that will allow Internet users to create their own sub-page of ICANN’s evaluation site. Their subpage can be their own name in one of the 11 test languages, including Arabic, that would look like example.test/yourname. The main example.test domains, translated in each of the 11 languages, will resolve to websites with local content and the ability to share comments.

The MoU aims to build a cooperative working relationship in identified areas of common interest, and specifically to work towards the implementation of IDNs in the Arabic language, and to engage in the further development of the generic top-level domain name space.

The partnership program will also foster discussions and raise awareness within the Arab Internet community regarding technical and policy aspects of the Internet Domain Name System.

A copy of the signed MOU is available at: [PDF, 201K].

About ICANN:

ICANN is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers like domain names (like .org, .museum and country codes like .uk) and the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols that help computers reach each other over the Internet. Careful management of these resources is vital to the Internet's operation, so ICANN's global stakeholders meet regularly to develop policies that ensure the Internet's ongoing security and stability. ICANN is an internationally organized, public benefit non-profit company. For more information please visit:


UN-ESCWA promotes economic and social development through regional and subregional cooperation and integration and serves as the main general economic and social development forum within the United Nations system for the UN-ESCWA region. It formulates and promotes development assistance activities and projects commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for relevant operational projects. UN-ESCWA coordinates its activities with those of the major departments/offices of the United Nations at Headquarters and of specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations, such as the League of Arab States, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, with a view to avoid duplication and ensure complementarity, synergy and exchange of information.

Media Contacts:

Jason Keenan
Media Adviser, ICANN (USA)
Ph: +1 310 382 4004

International: Andrew Robertson
Edelman (London)
Ph: +44 7921 588 770

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."