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Internet ‘to speak Arabic’
Arabic content on the Internet is quite plentiful, but can users navigate to it?
March 25, 2013 12:41 by Muhammad Aldalou
There is an enormous amount of potential in the digital Arab landscape that is yet to be fully capitalised. Now that there is a substantial amount of Arabic content online – much more than there was five years ago – Arabic-speaking users are itching for their own ‘corner of the web’.
The good news is that, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), they’ll be getting it by the middle of 2013.
ICANN says that businesses and Internet users have to gear up for a drastic paradigm shift in their online behaviour as they have now given their official stamp of approval for .shabaka (شبكة. translates into .web in English), the world’s first ‘cross-border top-level Arabic domain’ which is a few months shy of being publicly available.
Arabic-speaking users will no longer need to rely on current Internet namespaces like the dot coms, dot nets and dot orgs, but rather have the same convenience that we so often take for granted when navigating the web.
Yasmin Omer, General Manager of International Domain Registry, tells Kipp that now .shabaka has been approved, there are only a few more regulatory and technical steps to be completed before the namespace can go live. And she’s certainly excited at the prospects.
“I expect .shabaka to be one of the biggest innovations in the Arab digital and online landscape this year,” she says. “Arabic script web addresses like .shabaka will be a significant factor in helping the next 90 million Arab users navigate to Arabic content.”
Omer stresses the primary aim of this new domain is to allow Arabic-speaking users to have the same kind of accessibility that we have now when we navigate the web. It’ll allow them to directly navigate to any website they want rather than ‘try their luck’ with different ones through a search engine. “Basically, the Internet will now speak Arabic as well,” says Omer.
She adds that she strongly believes it will provide a platform needed to fuel greater Arabic-oriented online entrepreneurism and innovation, and that she expects it to redefine the way businesses and users approach the internet in the global Arabic-speaking community.