Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) yesterday officially launched one of the first non-English top-level domain names in the Arab world. .emarat was launched in Abu Dhabi. in the presence of its director general Mohammad Nasser Al Ganem.

Ushering in a new era of Arab internet identity across the UAE and beyond, the alternative domain name was approved last month by the Washington-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Speaking at the launch event at the Emirates Palace, ICANN's CEO and President Rod Beckstrom said the UAE is one of the first four countries in the history of the internet to secure an internationalised top level domain name.

The name will allowpeople whose primary language script is Arabic, to access websites entirely with Arabic characters.


"Dot emarat will bring multiple benefits. It will help to foster innovation and creativity, and provide better branding opportunities for local companies.

"It will increase convenience and consumer choice, and generate educational opportunities.

"It will open up access to the internet to more Arabic speakers, who until now have been blocked by the need to use Latin script [and] ... it will also help stimulate the pride that comes with expressing a nation's cultural identity," Beckstrom added.

He said ICANN works toward a common good — a stable and secure global internet.

It keeps the internet running by maintaining the security and stability of the domain name system.

Beckstrom said Arabic is the seventh most common language on the internet, with an estimated 60 million Arabic language users online.

Internet access

He added that the UAE is a leader in internet usage.

"A study by INSEAD and the World Economic Forum recently ranked it the most networked country in the region. 74.1 per cent of its 4.8 million population was online as of December 2009 — 3.5 million people.

It has 557,600 broadband connections and some 11 million mobile phones — two for each person," he added.

Speaking on .emarat, Al Ganem said that the objective is to support Arabic content over the internet and build a strong identity for the UAE and Arab countries across the World Wide Web.

"We encourage all companies and entities in the UAE to register for .ae and .emarat as it represents their local business identity and brings their country pride," Al Ganem added.

What's in a name?

A domain name is an identification label that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control on the internet, based on the Domain Name System (DNS).

Domain names are used in various networking contexts and application-specific naming and addressing purposes.

They are organised in subordinate levels (subdomains) of the DNS root domain, which is nameless.

The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains com, net and org, and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Below these top-level domains in the DNS hierarchy are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open for reservation by end-users that wish to connect local area networks to the internet, run web sites, or create other publicly accessible internet resources. The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.

When the Domain Name System was created in the 1980s, the domain name space was divided into two main groups of domains.

The country code top-level domains (ccTLD) were primarily based on the two-character territory codes of ISO-3166 country abbreviations. In addition, a group of seven generic top-level domains (gTLD) was implemented which represented a set of categories of names and multi-organisations. These were the domains GOV, EDU, COM, MIL, ORG, NET, and INT.