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Egypt was the first country to use Arabic internet domain name

A number of websites are available in Arabic script. However Egypt is the first to have web addresses written in Arabic.
Mail Oniline | 24.11.2011
A number of websites, including those for the Egyptian Government (pictured) are available in Arabic script. However Egypt is the first to have web addresses written in Arabic.

Egypt has applied for the first internet domain written in Arabic, the country's information technology minister said.

Tarek Kamel said they had applied for a new domain, which is pronounced '.masr', but written using the Arabic alphabet. Egypt was therefore the first Arab nation to have non-Latin web addresses.

He said the registering of the domain, which translates as '.Egypt', would offer new avenues for innovation, investment and growth.

'We can truly and gladly say... the internet now speaks Arabic,' Mr Kamel said.

The effort is part of a broader push to expand both access and content in developing nations, where the internet remains out of reach for wide swaths of the population.

Mr Kamel made his comments at the start of the Internet Governance Forum - a U.N. sponsored gathering that drew Yahoo Inc.'s Jerry Yang and web founder Tim Berners-Lee.

An internet oversight agency decided 2510.to allow domain names in non-Latin scripts at the end of October. These include Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Cyrillic.

The decision marks a key step in the Arab world, where a mixture of censorship, limited content and access have stymied efforts to boost Arabic-language content on the Web.

Yahoo's Mr Yang said that while there are over 300 million Arabic speakers in the world, less than one per cent of the content online is in Arabic.

As part of the company's push to boost access in Arabic, Yang said Yahoo would offer its mail and messenger service in Arabic next year. He did not provide an exact date.

In all, about 75 per cent of the world's population is still not online.

The prospective new users in developing nations face a number of challenges, ranging from monetary constraints to restrictions on their liberty.

On Saturday the Iranian media reported officials were deploying a special police unit to sweep web sites for political material and prosecute those deemed to be spreading lies.