Jun 29, 2010

Arab countries do the ICANN-CAN

Saudi, UAE and Egypt can now have domain names in Arabic. A move praised by many so-called ‘experts’ in the region. In may 2010, Egypt’s ministry of communications launched its Arabic domain. Few other companies are expected to follow.

No one is expected to use it! 

The Internet has been accessible for users in Arabiansim land since 1995. By the start of the millennium, it became a necessarily and widely used.  Interestingly enough, you didn’t need to be bilingual to be online. Arabic was sufficient for many users to log on and chat, research, shop, play games, participate in forum discussions and more.

All they needed was 3 simple steps:
  •      Turn on the computer
  •      Open the browser
  •      Look for Google or Yahoo in your favorites or bookmark bar.
For the past 15 years, new Internet users, with basic knowledge, have been following the above steps. With search engines providing the ability to search in Arabic, the Internet has been an easy ride for monolinguals.

And change is never easy. Once you are used to a simple functioning method, it is very difficult to adopt a new one.

Even if users wanted to use Arabic domains, unless they actually know the domain, they would still need to follow the above steps to search for it.

So why the Arabic addresses? If it’s not benefiting the users, who does it benefit? 

Is it another fake symbol of Patriotism and Arabianism? Does it make companies and organizations prouder to have Arabic URL addresses? Have they just woken up to this after 15 years of hibernation?

What I really would like to know is why are the so-called experts calling this a positive change? Is their business card that empty and need to be cluttered with yet another URL? More importantly, will those experts adopt this change and create Arabic domains for their websites? I sincerely doubt that.

Even the BBC called the new Icann (net regulator) move “historic”, yet the article failed to mention the benfits of having an Arabic URL.

In my personal opinion. Arabic domains are nothing but a 'prestige' which will lead to familiar PR stunts. Just wait and see the flooding of press releases with headlines such as: “First telecom company to have an Arabic domain” or “First bank to have an Arabic domain”, etc.

Honestly, before we brag about Arabic domains, I would rather see more Arabic content and users online. That would be the historic change. 


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