Dubai: Internet users could see more than 1,300 new domain names in the next 18 months, said Akram Atta Allah, president of the global domain’s division at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

Icann, which oversees the domain-name expansion, has received a total of 1,930 applications for the new domain names.

Atta Allah said that 100 new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) are now waiting to go live soon.

Currently, there are 22 domains — including .com, .net, and .edu — called generic top-level domains (gTLDs). There are around 160 million active websites, and 111 million of them are dot coms.

“Two hundred and fifty companies have registered for the “.Shabaka” [known to Arabic speakers as internet], Yasmin Omar, general manager of dotShabaka Registry, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the first Middle East DNS forum held in Dubai and hosted by Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) of UAE, Icann and the Internet Society (ISOC).

DotShabaka Registry is a Dubai-based internet technology company behind the “.Shabaka”.

Omar said that etisalat.Shabaka had gone live after Asma.Shabaka.

Asma.Shabaka is the Arabic website of DotShabaka Registry and etisalat.Shabaka is the Arabic website of etisalat, but the only thing is that it has to be typed in Arabic.

Icann plans to make use of the internet easier for non-English speakers and in more languages including Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

“We need to work on the adoption of the Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs), we need to make them easy to use and we need to make access to all those systems that cooperate with IDNs to make them work well,” he said.

Baher Esmat, Icann’s regional vice-president for the Middle East, said that developing the domain name industry is one of Icann’s strategic objectives in the Middle East and we are committed to working with all stakeholders towards achieving this objective.

“For the first time, internet users across the world will be able to use gTLDs entirely in their native languages. This change will promote closer connections between people, brands and organisations and will in turn provide new routes for businesses to reach their customers,” Atta Allah said.