Arabic Domain Names Pilot Project aptld meeting, Dubai Jun 3-6 2007

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  • Introduction

    • What is the problem?
    • Internet in the Arab World
    • Arabic Language Characteristics
  • Arabic Domain Names

    • Levels of an ADN Solution
    • Contribution Methodology
    • What has been done so far?
    • What is remaining?
    • Testing Projects

Introduction: About SaudiNIC

  • administering the domain name space under (.sa) since 1995.

  • operated by Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) … governmental org.

  • coordinating with regional and international bodies in order to present the local community needs

  • leading the local community effort towards supporting Arabic language in DNS

Introduction: What is the problem?

  • Current ASCII-based DNs are incapable of representing Arabic characters

  • Difficulty to reach Arabic sites using English DNs (pronunciation & spelling problems)

  • Full Arabic DNs will encourage Arab users to widely use the Internet

Introduction: Internet in the Arab World

  • Statistics

    • Population of Arab world: 275 B (5% of world population)
    • Arab Internet users represent 0.9 % of world users
    • Less than 10% who can speak English in the Arab world
  • Obstacles facing Internet use

    • Low level of telecommunication infrastructure
    • Lack of adequate regulations
    • High cost
    • Computer Illiteracy
    • Language barrier

Introduction: Why do we need ADN ?

  • Arabic language differs from Latin-based languages

  • Some proposed solutions, e.g. (ICANN IDN): mixing two scripts : نطاق

    • Dose not solve the problem since the user will have to write in two different languages (left-to-right and right-to-left)

Introduction: Arabic Language Characteristics

  • Consists of 28 characters.

  • Writing direction from Right-to-Left.

  • Diacritics are used for pronunciations which lead to different meanings as well

  • Two sets of numerals are used (Arabic and Arabic-Indic)

    • 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
    • 0، 1، 2، 3، 4، 5، 6، 7، 8، 9
  • Abbreviation is not common

Contribution Methodology

ADN: Solution Levels

ADN: What has been done so far?

ADN: What is remaining?

  • To define the accepted Arabic character set to be used for writing Arabic domain names

ADN: What is remaining?

  • To define the accepted Arabic character set to be used for writing Arabic domain names


  • MINC: Multilingual Internet Names Consortium, 2000

    • Arabic Working Group
  • AINC: Arab Internet Names Consortium, April 2001

    • Founder and member of the board
    • Chairman of the Linguistic Committee
  • ADNTF: Arabic Domain Name Task Force, Q2/2003

    • Formed under the auspices of ESCWA (UN)
    • Issuing an RFC for supporting the Arabic language in domain names with the cooperation of MINC
  • GCC ccTLDs Group:

  • Arab Team for Arabic Domain Names:

    • Formed under the auspices of Arab League
    • Arabic domain name pilot project

Testing Projects (1): At country-level

  • Individually done be some Arab countries (ccTLDs)

    • Arabic.English
    • E.g., نطاق
    • Problem of mixing languages (left-to-right and right-to-left)

Testing Projects (2): GCC ADN Project

  • March 2004:

    • During the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ccTLDs group meeting on 7 March 2004,
      • “A Technical Proposal for Implementing Arabic Domain names in the GCC Countries” was presented and accepted
    • A technical taskforce was formed and assigned the task to implement the proposal within 6 months in three phases

Testing Projects (3): ADN Pilot Project

  • May 2005: the 2nd meeting of the Working Group on Arabic Domain Names, Cairo.

  • Recommendations:

    • Extend the GCC Pilot Project for Arabic Domain Names to include all members of the Arab League (22 countries).
    • Renamed it to be "Arabic Domain Names Pilot Project”.
    • Under the auspices of the Arab League.

ADNPP: Introduction

  • Implementing a test bed for Arabic domain names (ADN) in the Arab world.

  • This will allow all Arab countries to early experience the use of Arabic domain names

    • identify their needs
    • agree on standards
    • locate possible problems
    • and develop required tools and policies
  • The project is not commercial and had been initiated by a non profit organizations

ADNPP: Goals & objectives

  • Establish and implement Arabic domain names.

  • Increase the Internet use in the Arab world by making the Internet easier to use for native Arabic speakers.

  • Gain experience and knowledge of using Arabic domain names and share it with the Internet community.

  • Test the implantations of Arabic domain names based on the guidelines drafted by the “Arabic Team for Domain Names”.

  • Develop necessary tools required for Arabic domain names and DNS.

ADNPP: Participants + Duration

  • Participants

    • All members of Arab League are invited to participate in this pilot project
  • Duration

    • Open . will continue as a test bed until the recognition of Arabic TLDs by concerned international bodies .

ADNPP: Deliverables

  • Establish and activate the Steering and Technical Committees (done)

  • Prepare and maintain a website for the project (done)

  • Prepare the Arabic DNS root servers (done)

  • Prepare the Arabic ccTLD servers for the participating countries and connect them with the Arabic root servers (done)

  • Register and test Arabic domain names (in progress)

  • Test and develop tools supporting the use of Arabic domain names (done and in progress)

  • Participate in local and regional activities related to Arabic domain names (done)

ADNPP: Participants so far

  • Participated Countries:

    • United Arab Emirates
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Qatar
    • Oman
    • Palestine
    • Egypt
    • Tunisia
    • Syria
    • Jordan

ADNPP: Root Servers

ADNPP: Policy Docs

  • The Steering Committee produced a number of policy documents (so far):

    • Project initiation Document
    • Guidelines for an Arabic Domain Name System (Internet Draft)
    • Terms and Conditions
    • Participation Policy for Arabic ccTLD managers
    • Guidelines for forming Arabic Domain Names

ADNPP: Tech Docs

  • The Technical Committee produced a number of technical documents (so far):

    • General Technical Introduction.
    • How to Setup Arabic root server.
    • How to Setup Arabic ccTLD server.
    • How to Resolve Arabic Domain Names (ISPs).
    • Requirements for Resolving Arabic Domains (End Users).

ADNPP: Last Participations

  • Comments on ICANN IDN Guidelines V 2.0

  • Comments on deployment of internationalized top level domains (Chinese Domain Name Consortium CDNC )

  • ICANN Meeting, Vancover, 30 NOV 2005

  • ICANN Meeting, Marrakech (Morocco), 26 Jun 2006

  • UNESCO & ICANN & NTRA - Workshop about “Towards a global multilingual Internet”, Athens , 31 OCT 2006

    • Technical Presentation about the ADNPP
  • ICANN & UAENIC - IDN workshop, Dubai, 20 NOV 2006

    • Technical Presentation about the ADNPP
  • Monitoring and following up ADN new activities 

SaudiNIC’s Experiences: Introduction

  • SaudiNIC has opened the registration of Arabic domain names under (.السعودية) for test purposes on:

    • 26/9/2005 (22/8/1426 H)
  • Following the regulations of the Arabic Domain Names Pilot Project (

SaudiNIC’s Experiences: Accomplishments (1/2)

  • Writing registration policies for Arabic domains (.السعودية).

  • Publishing a section in SaudiNIC website about ADNs:

  • Making announcements through the media regarding

    • Arabic Domain Names Pilot Project
    • The launching date for accepting Arabic domains requests under (.السعودية)
  • Building forms and tools:

    • Online form for submitting registration requests.
    • Online form for instant modification.
    • Whois service.
    • Zone builder for (السعودية).
    • ADN Registration System.
    • Provide domain hosting choices for ADN.
    • And many other generic tools …

SaudiNIC’s Experiences: Accomplishments (2/2)

  • IDN/ADN Converting Tool:

    • Convert domain names form IDN to ASCII and vice versa.
  • DNS checker for Arabic Domains:

    • Check if an IDN domain name is hosted on any name servers.
  • Host checker for Arabic Domains:

    • Resolve IDN domains to the correspondent IP address and vice versa.
  • Zone file editor for Arabic domains:

    • Create and manage Arabic zone files easily using this zone editor.
  • ADN plug-in “Arabic.Arabic” (عربي.عربي)

    • Browser plug-in that enable users to reach fully Arabic domain names for any country participating in the ADN Project

SaudiNIC’s Experiences: Policies and Regulations

  • Governed by the policies and regulations of the ADNPP

  • Utilize the .SA policies as a template for the Arabic domains

  • Flat Registration under (السعودية)

  • First come first serve (matching the policies)

  • Domain names format (based on the ADNPP guidelines) :

    • Length from 3 to 30 (approximate).
    • Consists of the main 28 Arabic letters and their possible shapes.
      • U0621-U063A + U0641-U064A
    • Use Dash (-) as word separators.
    • Domain should start with the entity type or activities
      • وزارة – إدارة – مجموعة – شركة – مدرسة – مستشفى – نادي – شبكة
    • Match spelling and grammar rules (manually).
    • No registration for individuals (temporary).
    • Not permitted:
      • Mixing between languages and scripts.
      • Kasheeda(التطويلة)
      • Tashkeel (diacritica) and Shaddah
      • Numbers (temporary)
      • Character folding
      • Combining many Arabic words without separator.

SaudiNIC’s Experiences: Reg. Requirements & Procedure

  • Registration Requirements:

    • Having an active .sa domain name.
    • Filling the online form.
    • Sending a conformation letter to SaudiNIC.
      • Confirm reading the policies!
  • Registration Procedure:

    • Reading and agreeing on SaudiNIC ADN Policies.
    • Choosing appropriate Arabic domain names
      • Guidelines that helps choosing Arabic domain name.
    • Filling the online application form.

SaudiNIC’s Experiences: Technical Issues

  • Domain name hosting choices :

    • URL forwarding/Redirecting (shared hosting)
    • IP addressing (dedicated/IP-based hosting)
    • Pointing to name servers (full DNS hosting)
      • If ISP familiar with IDN/ADN
  • Use UTF-8 for all data.

  • Store the puny-code for the ADN.

SaudiNIC’s Experiences: Learned Lessons

  • Users submit many requests for Arabic domains:

    • With Arabic spelling Mistakes! (موأسسة)
    • With English pronunciation in Arabic letters. (ورلد وايد)
    • Popular and general names of future selling purposes. (إنترنت)
  • Main Obstacles:

    • Difficult to coordinate and make every ISP to join the project so users can reach ADN
    • Some ISPs lack technical experiences to work with IDN
    • MS browser IE (Ver. 6 or less) does not support IDN

Developing “Arabic.Arabic” Plug-in

  • The Goal is to enable the Arabic user to reach Arabic domains:

    • Independently from the ISP
    • Independently from any service/connection type.
  • The solution:

    • Develop a browser plug-in that enable the user reaching Arabic domain names in easy and smart way.
    • The plug-in should convert any Arabic domain name to a real & reachable domain name registered in the current DNS (e.g. xn--?????

“Arabic.Arabic”: Plug-in tool

  • browser plug-in tool that simulate the solution.

  • approved by the ADNPP.

  • Latest version is 1.1

    • Supports Windows OS (2000, XP)
    • Works with IE 6
    • Auto update checking.
    • Support the IDN punycode converting (IDNA)
    • Interacts only with Arabic domain names (participant counties)
    • Support the ADNPP non-plugin solution (old way)
    • Change the Arabic domain name to real domain:
      • موقع.السعودية موقع 
  • Future versions:

    • Support other OS
    • Support IE7 & Firefox
    • Support Key word searching


  • Having Arabic Domain Names is becoming an essential requirement to our community development and it is not a commodity!

    • Imagine … e-government solutions using a foreign language!!
  • Not having a full IDN root servers by itself is a big obstacle.

  • Local community can help in defining what they need and how they can be implemented

    • Reserve the development of Arabic language standards and tables to be done by Arabs derived from their respective community. [local empowerment]


  • شكرا

  • xn--mgbti4d

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