Go figure: Arabic is one of the world’s leading languages yet the Wikipedia Arabic portal carries less words than its site in Catalan, which is spoken by 9 million people…
In a bold move to give the language the digital oomph it deserves web addresses will now be available in Arabic. The Guardian reports on how this is part of a wider move to open up cyberspace to domain names in multiple, non-Latin scripts.
Egypt: Also Known as Dot misr.
Egypt, the most densely populated Arab country, announced in May that it’s begun registering names under the. misr domain (“Misr” being the Arabic name for Egypt.)
The first three companies to use it are TE Data, Vodafone Data and Link Registrar. Egyptian communications Minister, Tarek Kamel, has called the move “a milestone in Internet history”.
“This great step will open up new horizons for e-services in Egypt,” he said in The Guardian.
“It will boost the number of online users in the country and will enable Internet services to penetrate new market segments by eliminating language barriers.”
Out With Old, In With the New
Instead of using the old .eg domain name, Egyptian organizations can now use .”misr”, written from right to left in Arabic script as their default country code for domestic websites.
One of the first “internationalized domain names” leads to the Egyptian communications ministry. If a browser has the correct fonts installed, the user should see an Arabic name. But of course, this all depends on the browser…
Jumping on the Bandwidth Wagon
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also introducing the new codes: .Al-Saudiah and .Emarat.
Icann, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers , approved the use of non-Latin domain names at the end of 2009. About time too, given that half of the world’s Internet users use a Latin script as their primary language.
1% of all web content is in Arabic– though its 280 million speakers add up to 5% of the global population. Until now, Arabic web content had to be hosted under Latin addresses, creating practical problems and, as The Guardian puts it, “conveying a sense of linguistic discrimination.”
Egypt: Zooming Down the Info Highway
Internet access in Egypt is getting more and more affordable and the use of Internet on mobile devices is blossoming. The Egyptian government has said it plans to boost its broadband capacity with a $1bn upgrade in the next four years.
Microsoft and Google include Arabic in their top 10 languages most in need of attention and are hot on the case to increase access.