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The Service of Registering Domain Names and Sites in Arabic on the Internet Enters Egypt

Egypt, Al Ahram, 30 May 2000 -- The service of registering domain names and sites in Arabic entered Egypt last week. A specialized American company announced the start of this service in the local market through two local Internet companies. This step comes amidst great problems still facing the use of Arabic in the registration of domain names and sites on the Internet. Problems that will at the end - in one way or another - have an impact on the end users. This service came while the Ministry of Communications and Technology signed an agreement with American Network Solutions for implementing a similar service.

In a press conference held on Wednesday morning, the company's spokesmen declared that the system they offer allows the registration of domain names and sites in 55 languages. It is a software downloaded onto the server of the Internet Service Provider. The program will establish an Arabic directory of sites for owners who want to register their domain names in Arabic. Through the system and the directory, the site can be recognized on the international net and entered from any part of the world by writing it in Arabic. This service is automatically available to end users who are customers to the Egyptian registrars. Other users can benefit from this service by downloading the program from the Internet.

Domain names are defined according to the numeral definition system composed of a group of numbers, for example (.128.9128.127) that accurately indicates the location of the computer - geographically - its position and function. Through this unique number any computer can, without problem, be connected to another one on the Internet. The user does not use numbers but searches for sites and names on the Net with letters according to specific rules. For instance if we are looking for the Al Ahram newspaper site we would write: www.ahram.org.e.g. The first part means world wide web, the second Al Ahram's name, the third "org" is for organization, the fourth is for the first two letters of Egypt.

The system offered [by i-DNS.net] is supposed to change Arabic letters to numbers and codes used in connecting together computers on the net: the Arabic address is changed to a group of numbers that indicates the position and function of the computer hosting the site address. This will permit the use of Arabic letters instead of the English ones to register the domain names in Arabic on the Internet. They will be written in Arabic, received and displayed in Arabic too. For instance instead of using eg for Egypt the 'meem' will be used; so for Al Ahram you will write first 'meem' for org, second 'meem' for Egypt.

During the press conference we raised several issues on the technical difficulties and problems that will face this technology, the kind of quality levels the end user will receive, and how Arabic letters may be used on relatively old systems that do not work under Unicode rules. This Unicode technology is the principal axis to unify the way computers deal with Arabic and other letters in different working systems and commonly used applications, such as word processing, search and surf on the Net. It means that the user who does not have a computer loaded with the new system will have to upgrade it and go through some technical steps to benefit from [i-DNS.net's] new technology. Egyptian companies who have signed on with the company are supposed to warn their customers about these problems and help them overcome it. It would not be right that these companies start promoting this service without shouldering that burden. These users will get nothing and will only be frsutrated in their search of Arabic sites. The answers given by the registrars will be taken into consideration.

Questions were also raised on how the system will manage with Arabic letters that are written in different right ways, or according to their place in the word, in addition to writing from right to left. The Arab language Academy developed the criteria used for Arabic sites:

Instead of .com
Instead of .net
Instead of .org

But what if another company decides later on to add another letter to the Arabic 'com' denomination, etc... If this happens the core of the system will be disfunctional. The user will find himself in front of sites he did not want or he will not find what he is searching for, because Arabic standardization does not yet exist. The problem will arise especially in the country name. There is no agreement on the country names. 'Meem' is for Misr [Egypt], but it is also for Mauritania. If the two countries use the same letter, and have similar sites, what will the user get -- Egypt or Mauritania?

The managers of this American company and their partners tried to answer as much as they could. Finally the answers were not accompanied with a live demonstration showing the strength of the system to deal with the problems arose. These are pending problems.


-- i-DNS.net shall not be held liable for the views and opinions of the authors expressed herein.
-- Translated Article

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