The internet gets international with the arrival of non-Latin Domain Names

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The Independent Online

Non-Latin speakers across the world will now be able to use non-Latin characters for the entirety of internet address names reported the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on May 7.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to use the "internationalized" domain names (IDNs). The countries can now use Arabic characters after the dot in a URL to type the last part of a domain name. For instance, instead of using Latin characters to type .eg (Egypt), .sa (Saudi Arabia) or .ae (United Arab Emirates) users will be able to type in the Arabic equivalent to the right (or left for languages which are written and read from right-to-left) of the dot.

"This isn't just a minor change for the Internet, it's a seismic shift that will forever change the online landscape," said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN. "This is the beginning of a transition that will make the Internet more accessible and user friendly to millions around the globe, regardless of where they live or what language they speak."

More than 20 countries representing 11 different languages have registered their interest in acquiring an IDN country code for top level domains. ICANN have said they are expecting a wider rollout for the program but will initially trial it on a limited basis to see how the Arabic IDN country code top-level domains are adopted by users.

According to ICANN, Arabic is one of the most used languages on the internet today.

In late 2009, ICANN approved the creation of internet addresses containing non-Latin characters. The May 7 announcement marks the start of an international internet Domain Name system in which people across the world will be able to use other scripts in the top level domain portion of internet address names.

For more information about international domain names visit: