Since November last year it has been possible to use characters that were not formerly part of the Latin character set used for creating web addresses and URLs. For example, the German umlaut – a character with two dots above it such as the “ü” which should normally appear in my name – could not be used in the URL address until the changes in the Autumn. Yesterday, ICANN turned on the newest three domain names and the first to use a script other than Latin – namely Arabic – to provide local script domains for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arabic Emirates.
The new domains (which you will only see if you have Arabic script enabled on your PC) are:-
- Egypt مصر
- Saudi Arabia السعودية
- United Arab Emirates امارات
These new local domains – or ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains) will prove highly useful for international SEO purposes and once these domains are fully available to buy it is highly recommended that you acquire your brand names, trademarks and country names in these domains to protect and use them in the Middle East. Of course, as these are Arabic which is a right-to-left language – they will actually appear on the left in the browser address bar before the actual site name!
Oddly missing from this launch is the рф Russian domain name for the Russian Federation which was ‘delegated’ ie approved at the same time as the Arabic versions. This domain will no doubt be the very next to go live.
In the first instance, ICANN is processing 21 local domains which span 11 different languages including Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Sinhalese, Tamil and Thai. Initially, domains that are approved must match country or territory names – but ICANN has plans to go much further including launching new generic top level domains which use the new character set. Domainers watch out, the dot com may soon be available in Russian, Chinese and Arabic in a transliterated form.
ICANN believes that these new local script variant domains and URLs will create new ways for end users to find and produce information online, provide more choices to registrants and provide new opportunities for investment and new businesses. ICANN also says that international domain names or IDNs will reach out to wider parts of the globe and be more ‘inclusive’. Some systems and applications will need to be updated in order to work with them.
The BBC also reported this story – but omitted to clarifty that these scripts have been usable since November and that it is just the domain endings which have gone live today.
See also John Yunker’s piece on the first full length non-Latin URL:
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