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First internationalised domain names go live

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates receive the first non-Latin top level domains
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

The first top level domains with non-Latin characters went live on Thursday, just over six months after the process for doing so was approved, with another thirteen nearing registration.

"Today the first three production non-Latin top-level domains were placed in the DNS root zone," wrote Icann root zone services manager Kim Davies in a blog post on Thursday. "This means they are live!"

The first three countries with internationalised domain names (IDN) are Egypt: مصر, Saudi Arabia: السعودية, and United Arab Emirates: امارات.

UK registry Nominet said that non-Latin character sets would allow wider, easier internet use.

"The introduction of internationalised domain names (IDNs) is a major turning point in the history of the internet," said Nominet marketing director Phil Kingsland in a statement. "There are currently an estimated 1.8bn people using the internet and a further 5bn who are not yet online -- most of these people are from nations where their language is not based on the Latin script."

Icann approved a fast track process for granting IDN country-code top level domains (ccTLD) at an Icann meeting on 30 October 2009.

The Egyptian government announced in November 2009 that it had applied for an IDN ccTLD from Icann.

Icann said in a statement on Thursday that it had so far received 21 requests for IDN ccTLDs representing 11 languages. Thirteen requests have successfully passed through the second stage of the process, and are ready for the requesting country or territory to request TLD delegation, which is the final stage of the application process.

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