Expert Group Meeting on the Use of Arabic Script in Domain Names Skip to main content

Expert Group Meeting on the Use of Arabic Script in Domain Names


During its inception phase, the Internet evolved predominantly as an English-only medium where content and information were handled and presented mainly in English in addition to few other Latin languages. However, with the rapid increase in Internet users over the years, languages on the Internet multiplied and diversified to include other Latin-based languages (such as Spanish and Italian) as well as non-Latin languages (such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic). Nevertheless, Arabic users of the Internet are faced with the limited availability of Arabic content which represents a major obstacle towards wider dissemination. Furthermore, they are still faced with another obstacle in naming, locating and accessing content in their native language, by having to use Latin character-based addressing schemes.

Efforts commenced in 1998 for using non-Latin script in domain names and were revived in 2003 into several standardization activities in line with the global move towards Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). UN-ESCWA developed the first Internet-Draft on "Guidelines for an Arabic Domain Name System" and supported the League of Arab States (LAS) in their pilot project on the ADNS through several activities such as publications, workshops and meetings.

Recently in 2008, following feedback and discussions made with involved stakeholders, and building on the evolution of the pilot project, the published Internet-Draft was refined and republished by UN-ESCWA awaiting the next meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to be moved into Standard Track.

During the first quarter of 2008, standardization efforts stepped into a more global dimension as collaboration was initiated with communities using languages based on the Arabic script such as Persian and Urdu. Accordingly, the first meeting on Arabic script set the scene for the envisioned cooperation, defined issues and worked on providing solutions. This resulted in the formation of the "Arabic Script in Internationalized Domain Names - Working Group" (ASIWG) to collaborate on the use of Arabic script in domain names. The current Expert Group Meeting scheduled for 28-29 May 2008 comes as the second meeting of ASIWG.

The Meeting is organized by ICTD of UN-ESCWA in collaboration with the Telecommunications Regulator Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates as a local partner and in cooperation with other co-organizers; namely: the Public Interest Registry (PIR), Afilias, and Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD).

The Meeting will be held at The Palace/The Old Town Hotel near TRA Dubai Office.

Detailed information is available in the Information Note. Submissions, inquiries and requests for additional information should be addressed to:

Mr. Ayman El-Sherbiny, First IT Officer

ICT Division, ESCWA
PO Box 11-8575, Beirut, Lebanon
Tel: +961-1-981301 ext. 1555

Fax: +961-1-981510

Ms. Hania Dimassi, Research Assistant

ICT Division, ESCWA

PO Box 11-8575, Beirut, Lebanon
Tel: +961-1-981301 ext. 1542

Fax: +961-1-981510