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When can we write URLs in Arabic?!
The Language Barrier Holds Most Of The Arab Users From Using the Internet
Link Egypt And Internet Egypt Are Working Towards Writing Urls In Arabic Language

Egypt, Etisalat Alyoum, 29 January 2001 -- Till now the majority of Internet users in the Arab World are those who have good knowledge of English language. Still so many are unable to embark upon the Internet world because of the necessity of writing web addresses in English; although the content of the site itself might be in Arabic language, targeting Arab users who may not be good in English language. Hence the language stands as a barrier in their way hindering them from entering the era of information and communication revolution on the Internet. In this reportage we will try to answer two questions. First: Why can't we write web addresses in Arabic language. Second: When will we write web addresses in Arabic.

It has become a certain fact that the language barrier plays an important role in hindering people from using the Internet. Even though 65% of the people do not speak English still web sites addresses are based on Latin characters. Since Arab users began using the Internet a rightful question was being posed and that question is can we write the URL of Arabic web sites in Arabic language; for instance instead of writing Egypt online.com we write and the same for writing email addresses? Of course it was not the Arabs alone who posed such question it was also posed by all speakers of other languages without exception especially now that the Internet has become full of web sites in all languages. All this has made the American company i-DNS.net international - US Silicon Valley foresee a golden opportunity in this project that ought to be exploited and that is exactly what it did. And it realized, as other did, that the language barrier is one of the major factors that hinder people from using the Internet.

It is important that I point here to the fact that Web addresses use a system known as Domain name system used for matching alphabetical names to their corresponding Internet Protocol numbers. That is why this company has come up with a new technology, based on installing a software on the server providing the Internet service, to allows resolving web addresses written in any given language (such as Arabic) with its Internet Protocol number. Thus providing the caller with the web site even though he used non-Latin characters for writing its address.

The company has taken advantage of the wide spread adoptation of Unicode Utf-8 encoding used in Internet browsers because it contains special characters of all living languages. The company have been successful in attracting a number of Internet service providers from all over the world to adopt its ideas and recently two Arabic Egyptian companies Link Egypt and Internet Egypt who have obtained a DNS license to sell Internet web addresses written in Arabic alphabets in Egypt.

In this subject matter Wael Nour, director of DNSNZI in the Middle East, said that this idea like any new technology was at first a new knowledge for which some of the skeptic people predicted inconsistency between the Arab world and the west world who uses Latin characters. For the Arabic words might not seem comprehensible if the letters were joined as when writing Etisalat Alyoum for example. That and other objections were not reason enough for aborting the idea of finding solutions for all these problems. As an example the name can be registered by inserting dashes between its words (Etisalat-Alyoum) the same as when using Latin alphabets. Though these problems are not exclusive to the use of Arabic language but have analogues in other languages; they did not prevent the company from selling 100,000 domain names in Chinese language during the first few weeks of the service in China. Its technology currently supports 55 languages of the world.

Nevertheless Weal Nour did not hide the fact that the real problem lies in establishing conventional standards to be recognized worldwide. He affirms that D.N.S.-NET seeks to contribute in establishing those standards and has made some communications throughout the Arab world for the purpose of creating workgroups of specialists who will participate in setting those standards. He has also asked one of the language specialist at the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo for his contribution in finding suitable to the last three Latin letters used to identify the domain to which the site belongs. A resolution was reached to substitute those three letters by a single Arabic letter to localize it. Accordingly the letter designates com, designates net, designates org, designates edu, designates mil and finally the letter designates gov.

The use of one letter was favored over the use of three letters as in the English language to avoid using words that might have an inappropriate meaning such as referring to the word (company) by "". Now a company like Internet Egypt which has a web site with the address Internet-Egypt.com can now choose a address in Arabic. As for the Country-Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) e.g. sa for Saudi Arabia or eg for Egypt Mr. Wael Nour explained that there is an authorized list for all the Arabic Country-Codes available at the Arab League compliant with the domain name space of the Arab countries. But one must also point out that you will not be able to reach any site with Arabic name unless your internet service provider is deploying Bind on his server this is why the company is working hard to convince Arabic companies to deploy this (…)


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

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