Egypt creates first Arabic domain name

Egypt is launching the first internet domain name to use the Arabic script, following ICANN’s decision to allow non-Latin top level domains.

The new suffix is pronounced ‘masr’, meaning ‘Egypt’.

The announcement follows the decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to allow fast-track applications for domain names in scripts such as Hindi, Russian and Korean.

Speaking at a meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang said that although there are over 300 million Arabic speakers in the world, fewer than one percent of online content is in Arabic.

Egypt currently has just 15 million or so internet users, from a population of 80 million. Internet use is tightly regulated and, it is claimed, heavily censored.

Yesterday, Reporters Sans Frontieres, which campaigns for press freedom, criticised the Egyptian government for internet censorship. According to the group, the country recently arrested and tortured two young bloggers.

“Egypt is one of the enemies of the internet and if internet governance requires a degree of regulation, it should be of a liberal nature and not the kind that the Egyptian government would like to impose,” warned Reporters Sans Frontieres.

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