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UN-ESCWA and ICANN to Develop Arabic Domain Names


The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have recently jointed hands to give a boost to the development of internationalized domain names (IDNs) in Arabic according to a memorandum of understanding signed between both parties. The Memorandum of Understanding aims: (a) to build a cooperative working relationship in identified areas of common interest, (b) to work towards the implementation of IDNs in the Arabic language, (c) and to engage in the further development of the generic top-level domain name space. The partnership program will also foster discussions and raise awareness within the Arab Internet community regarding technical and policy aspects of the Internet Domain Name System.

“Implementing IDNs is one of the largest enhancements to the Internet in its history, ”said Paul Twomey, ICANN’s President and CEO on 18 June 2007, the day the Memorandum was signed. “This partnership with UN-ESCWA will insure we are sharing information and ideas on how to move forward with having Arabic available in the globally-interoperable Domain Name System,” he added.

Yousef Nusseir, UN-ESCWA Chief of Information and Communication Technology Division said that UN-ESCWA was committed to facilitate access to the Internet in the Arabic language and had led efforts geared towards using the Arabic characters in Domain Names since 2003, including research, standardization, and advocacy. “UN-ESCWA and the League of Arab States are currently harmonizing several regional joint activities, among which is the upgrade of the Arab pilot project spearheaded by the League, aiming at full-fledged implementation that would drastically increase the internet dissemination rates in the region,” he said.

ICANN will be launching a real-time, real-world evaluation later this year that will allow Internet users to create their own sub-page of ICANN’s evaluation site. Their sub-page can be their own name in one of eleven test languages, including Arabic that would look like example.test/ yourname. The main example.test domains, translated into eleven languages, will resolve to websites with local content and the ability to share comments.

ICANN is an internationally organized, public benefit non-profit company that is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers like domain names (like: .org and .museum and country codes like: .uk) and the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols that help computers reach each other over the Internet. Careful management of these resources is vital to the Internet's operation, so ICANN's global stakeholders meet regularly to develop policies that ensure the Internet's ongoing security and stability (

UN-ESCWA is one of the five regional commission s of the United Nations. It promotes economic and social development through regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration in the Western Asia region. It formulates and promotes development assistance activities and projects commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for relevant operational projects. UN-ESCWA promotes Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications for development at the national and regional levels, and strives towards the establishment of a sustainable ICT sector in the region (

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Media Contacts:

ICANN Jason KeenanMedia Adviser, ICANN
(USA)Ph: +1 310 382 4004
International: Andrew RobertsonEdelman
(London)Ph: +44 7921 588 770

Nabil Abu Dargham
UN Information Centre/Services
Beirut, Lebanon
Ph: +961-1-978 534