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ICANN Releases a Study on the Digital Economy in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey in the Run-Up to ICANN60

Istanbul, Turkey…The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is pleased to announce the release of a study on the status of the regional digital economy, titled "Accelerating the Digital Economy in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey" [PDF, 422 KB]. Commissioned by ICANN, the study identifies the dynamics of the current digital economy and recommends points of development in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT). ICANN had commissioned a similar study in 2014 with the same aim in a global context: "Greasing the Wheels of the Digital Economy" [PDF, 983 KB].

This study serves as part of ICANN's efforts to foster engagement between ICANN and the broader Internet community, and to help build a strong and competitive domain name industry in the region. The study focuses on 410 million people living in 15 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, and the UAE. It tackles issues such as social media usage, content in local language, Internet connectivity, Internet start-ups, e-friction and legislations in the Internet sphere.

"ICANN commissioned the study to investigate the current status of the digital economy in the MENAT region and to outline the opportunities of growth in various areas, including the domain name market, that can help us make better use of the digital potential in the region," said Baher Esmat, ICANN's VP of Global Stakeholder Engagement in the Middle East. He further added "We believe the recommendations that derive from this study provide a guide for policy makers and businesses to nurture digital transformation in the region."

The findings of the study indicate that there is a need for governments to lead by supporting long-term efforts in four areas:

  • Provision of ubiquitous, affordable connectivity
  • Availability of relevant content
  • Building of digital capabilities
  • Establishment of supportive policies and practices

It concludes that in order to enhance the digital economy of MENAT, a collective effort by all stakeholders, from public to private sector, is required.

The study will be discussed in the upcoming ICANN60 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Remote participants will be able to join this discussion here.

To read the study click here [PDF, 422 KB].

To read David Dean's blog on the study, click here.

For your questions and feedback, please email

Media Contacts:

Luna Madi
Communications Director, EMEA
Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 533 0313505

Buket Coskuner
Global Communications Coordinator, EMEA
Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 533 4876254

About ICANN:

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 into your computer or other device – a name or a number. 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 and a community with participants from all over the world. For more information, please visit:

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."