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Baher Esmat Appointed Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Regional Office

ISTANBUL – 17 AUGUST 2020 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced that Baher Esmat has been appointed Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) office in Istanbul, Turkey. He is replacing Nick Tomasso who has served as Managing Director for MEA since 2017 in addition to his role as Vice President, Global Meeting Operations, in which he will continue to serve. Esmat is taking on this responsibility in addition to his role as Vice President, Stakeholder Engagement, Middle East, which he has held since 2012. Esmat will continue to report to Sally Costerton, Senior Advisor to President & Senior Vice President, Global Stakeholder Engagement.

Esmat joined ICANN in 2006 as Regional Manager, Global Partnerships, Middle East. During his 14-year tenure at ICANN org, he has led the organization's engagement efforts in the Middle East and overseen the development of regional engagement plans.

In his new role, Esmat will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the regional office in Istanbul. He will work with its functional teams to facilitate engagement and outreach activities in the region and ensure that the office serves the MEA region needs in alignment with ICANN's 2021-2025 strategic plan.

Prior to joining ICANN, Esmat worked in public and private organizations, and led efforts to advance telecommunication infrastructure and Internet services in Egypt and the Middle East. He began his career as a network engineer and contributed to the introduction of the Internet in Egypt in the 1990s. He also worked for Newbridge Networks and was part of its regional pre-sales team developing technical solutions for telecom operators and ISPs across the Middle East. He later joined the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt and led the planning of key national infrastructure projects and Internet Governance related work. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Cairo University, and a Master's degree in Computer Science from the American University in Cairo.


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 not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.

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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."