ictQATAR Hosts Workshop on Internationalized Domain Names at 2011
The workshop, titled “IDNs: Implementations, Challenges and Opportunities”, presented the current status of IDN implementations, shared the best practices and experiences of IDN Top Level Domains Operators and identified the key challenges facing IDN adoption worldwide.
Reflecting on Qatar’s IDN experience, Mohammed El Bashir, ictQATAR’s Numbering, Interconnection & Internet Domains Section Manager explained some of the challenges facing Qatar’s IDNs. “Qatar’s Internet Identity (.قطر) is a strong platform to create local Arabic digital content and is an important mechanism to expand Qatar’s digital footprint regionally and internationally. Challenges continue to exist, though, particularly when it comes to social media and search engine support of Arabic IDNs and ensuring the visibility and Search Engine Optimization of websites”.
Showcasing China’s IDN journey, Tan Yaling, Senior Policy Advisor at the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) pointed out that user adoption remains the key challenge facing IDNs worldwide, aside from the technical variant issues. “Currently, there are over 338,739 .China registered domain names – a considerably low number especially when we compare it to the total number of Internet users in China which has crossed 585 million users. With progress achieved in terms of browser support to .China domains, awareness is still indispensible to foster user adoption and educate the public on the applications and importance of Country-Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs).”
With its ccTLD being one of the first four IDNs approved by the ICANN, the UAE experience with IDNs continues to be well-received, with marketing operations still ongoing to bring the benefits of (.إمارات) to the public. “UAE’s IDNs have broken the language barriers and has provided an enabling environment to produce Arabic e-content that is more searchable and usable,” explained Suleman Bakhsh, Senior ICT Analyst at UAE’s Telecommunication Regulation Authority (TRA). “With Arabic being the seventh top spoken language worldwide, and Arab Internet users estimated at 60 million, we continue to focus on engaging with the public to address IDN adoption. With Google’s search results for Arabic currently standing at 330 million, we believe the UAE will continue to be an active contributor to Arabic e-content through its IDN.”
Irina Danelia from the Coordination Center for TLD .RU, explained how native-language (Cyrillic) IDNs in Russia have contributed to a wider user adoption. “Reception to .рф has been exceptional. As of September 22, 2011, there are over 896,267 registered domains, 22.2% of which are used as unique and not re-directed web addresses. Challenges in Russia primarily pertain to the end user experience especially email issues due to the fact that .рф is not yet fully recognized by a significant number of web applications”.
The workshop also featured Baher Esmat, Manager of Regional Relations for the Middle East Region at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) who discussed ICANN’s Fast Track process and the Variant Issues Project, aimed at identifying the main variant issues and coming up with one unified glossary that addresses the different languages used by the script communities. The workshop was moderated by Ram Mohan, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Affilias Limited.