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Making Progress with the Arabic Script in Domain Names

Members of the Task Force on Arabic Script Internationalized Domain Names (TF-AIDN)

The TF-AIDN is a community-driven working group. It was formed by ICANN’s Middle East Strategy Working Group (MESWG) in 2013 to work on technical issues and solutions. The TF-AIDN promotes Arabic Script IDNs and their secure deployment.

Currently, the TF-AIDN has 35 members hailing from 18 countries across the globe, who also make up the Arabic Script Generation Panel. The members come from a variety of backgrounds – including linguistics, technology, and policy – and cover a wide range of Asian and African languages using the Arabic script.

Due to the dedication of TF-AIDN members, the TF-AIDN was the first generation panel that completed its proposal for the Root Zone Label Generation Rules (RZ-LGR) for top-level domain names. The TF-AIDN has also finished proposals for LGR for second-level domain names for the Arabic and Urdu languages as a reference for the community to use.

Currently, the TF-AIDN is finalizing second-level LGR work for the Farsi and Pashto languages. Moreover, the Task Force is reaching out to local experts of Swahili, Fulfulde, and other major African languages to develop second-level LGR proposals for their use of the Arabic script domain names.

The TF-AIDN is working extensively on Universal Acceptance. The Task Force recently completed its first use-case report on issues encountered by languages using the Arabic script, and will present the report to the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG). Some of the key Universal Acceptance issues related to Arabic script domain names are:

  • Right-to-left direction of Arabic script domain names
  • End-to-end delivery of emails directed to email addresses that use the Arabic script
  • Operational software evaluation for using Arabic Script domain names and email addresses
  • Domain Name System security matters specifically related to Arabic script IDNs and their variant domain names
  • Compliance of programming languages and frameworks with Arabic script domain names
  • Challenges related to applications that automatic generate links to emails and URLs in text

TF-AIDN members are volunteers who are interested in Arabic script IDNs. Membership is open – if you would like to join, email us at meac.swg@icann.org.

 

 

Comments

    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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."