16 Jul 2013 07:54

SINGAPORE, July 15 (Bernama) -- Arabic speaking Internet users around the world will be the first to experience the next evolution of the Internet after Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) signed a contract with dotShabaka Registry for “شبكة.” (.shabaka).

With the contract signed on Sunday, the ICANN, the global regulator of web addresses, officially became the world’s first Arabic new Top-Level Domain (TLD).

Surpassing almost 1,900 other applicants from around the world, .shabaka(.web in English) will provide Arabic speaking Internet users with an alternative to non-Arabic Internet namespaces such as .com, .net and .org.

Expected to be live on the Internet in the coming months, شبكة. is part of the new Top-Level Domain programme being rolled out by ICANN to expand the Internet’s web address system.

Yasmin Omer, General Manager of dotShabaka Registry said: “Sunday’s contract signing is a monumental occasion. It is an achievement not only for us but for the entire Arabic speaking world. It will pioneer a new way for people to use the Internet that begins with the Arabic language," she said in a statement from Los Angeles, USA. She added, “شبكة." will have a global audience, with over 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa which use Arabic as an official language â€" a region that comprises over 380 million people.

She said Arabic is also the fastest growing language online â€" with growth of more than 2,500 percent in the 10 years to 2011.” “In spite of the boom in Arabic content online, Yasmin said users are still burdened with the need to use English on the Internet.

She said many websites and Internet applications force visitors to only use English.

"Through شبكة., we are campaigning for a truly Arabic Internet experience from start to finish,” she added.

Joining dotShabaka Registry in this important and exciting opportunity is GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name and Web hosting provider.

“The شبكة. domain name extension marks a meaningful change for the Arabic Internet, with tremendous opportunities for new businesses to grow and flourish in the Arabic language. We are ready to help make the new names available with an experience that includes easy-to-use search tools and the reliable service the world has come to expect from us," said GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving.

The addition of GoDaddy as the first Registrar partner will ensure شبكة. is set for worldwide release. dotShabaka Registry has contracted ARI Registry Services for the provision of software and infrastructure systems to support شبكة., owing to their vast experience in Domain Name Registry technology in supporting the .ae, .qa and .om domain name spaces.