ICANN continues to deepen its engagement with the Internet community worldwide. Globalization is not a "new" priority for us, and we have been laying the groundwork to achieve this vision.
Last week, you read my colleague Michaela Quinzy's blog on enhanced customer service capabilities, as part of our efforts to expand our global footprint and communication channels. Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the two "new" hubs opened over the past couple of years - Istanbul to cover Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), and Singapore for Asia Pacific (APAC) - in addition to our long established hub in Los Angeles.
EMEA Hub in Istanbul
Istanbul is perfectly positioned as a bridge between Europe and Asia, allowing us to better serve our stakeholders in EMEA. Moreover, Turkey has an active IT sector with nearly 40 million Internet subscribers in an environment that embraces economic competitiveness. It possesses a young, talented workforce that can bring dynamic discourse within the industry and expertise into our organization.
Our hub operations in Istanbul began in May 2013 in a temporary office space. Since then, we have been hiring local staff and growing our presence as a hub for the EMEA region.
Almost a year ago today, we moved into our new and expanded long-lease office space in Istanbul. To-date, our staff strength comprises 51 members across EMEA, of which 14 are based in the hub office. They provide ICANN services in the following areas: policy development support, contractual compliance, registries and registrars services, stakeholder engagement, communications, ICANN meetings, global contact services, human resources, IT, administration and board support.
Since its establishment, our activities and engagement have also greatly increased in Turkey. We work closely with our Turkish and regional stakeholders, participating in many Internet-related events to promote ICANN and the multistakholder model.
For example, there are 191 ICANN-accredited registrars in the EMEA region, including 8 registrars in Turkey. Key to note, ICANN organized the first Turkey DNS Forum last year, as the place to meet and network with the Internet industry's top players. It allowed for Turkish stakeholders to share experiences, best practices and emerging business opportunities as well as provide updates on the domain name industry at a local level. The first edition of the forum formed the building block for future annual forums with the next one planned for mid-November this year.
We are also looking forward to the expected launch of two new gTLDs - .IST and .ISTANBUL – which will provide an Internet presence to about 15 million residents of the Istanbul metropolitan area.
APAC Hub in Singapore
The APAC Hub celebrated our second anniversary in August and a few days ago, the Singapore team moved into a bigger long-term office space in South Beach Tower in downtown Singapore.
This move reaffirms ICANN's commitment to globalization and positions ICANN for long-term stability to continue our work to maintain a secure, stable and interoperable Internet. It also cements the vision of having three global hubs to serve the global community.
APAC is home to almost half of all Internet users in the world. To support this region, the hub quintupled its staff strength in the short span of two years. We now have a 30-strong staff team providing services such as registry and registrar support, stakeholder engagement, contractual compliance, security capacity building, communications, global contact services, operations, IT, legal, finance and human resources.
Together with the community's support, guidance and partnership, we've reached a few milestones that we're proud of. This includes pioneering the NextGen@ICANN program with our partner NetMission during ICANN 49 in 2014. The NextGen@ICANN program is now a regular fixture at ICANN meetings globally.
We also launched the Language Localization Toolkit, initially part of our partnership with the Korean community, to promote community-driven outreach. The Toolkit has now been translated by local communities into five Asian languages and adopted as a global effort, managed by the ICANN Language Services Team.
We started providing capacity building workshops in the region and to-date, we have conducted more than 61 workshops across 33 countries, training more than 2000 participants. And we pledge to do more.
The new Singapore office houses facilities to conduct community meetings and trainings. We believe that the community will find this useful since Singapore is such a central and strategic location within the region. And we certainly look forward to welcoming and hosting our community here in the near future.